[Federal Register: February 5, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 24)]
[Page 5911-5912]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Restoration Plan and 
Environmental Assessment for the Lone Mountain Processing, Inc.; Coal 
Slurry Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment in Lee County, VA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), on behalf of the 
Department of the Interior (DOI), announces the release for public 
review of the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/
EA) for the Lone Mountain Processing, Inc. (LMPI) Coal Slurry Spill 
Natural Resource Damage Assessment in Lee County, Virginia. The RP/EA 
describes the trustee's proposal to restore natural resources injured 
as a result of a release of hazardous substances.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before March 15, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Requests for copies of the RP/EA may be made to: U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, 
Gloucester, Virginia 23061. Written comments or materials regarding the 
Restoration and Compensation Determination Plan should be sent to the 
same address.

Wildlife Service, 6669 Short Lane, Gloucester, Virginia 23061. 
Interested parties may also call 804-693-6694, extension 107, for 
further information.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 24, 1996, a failure in a coal 
slurry impoundment associated with a coal processing plant owned by 
LMPI in Lee County, Virginia, resulted in the release of six million 
gallons of coal slurry to the Powell River watershed. The spill 
occurred when subsidence in the coal slurry impoundment caused the coal 
slurry to enter a system of abandoned underground coal mine-works. The 
coal slurry exited through a mine-works surface portal at Gin Creek, 
causing the release of the coal slurry into a series of tributaries to 
the Powell River. ``Blackwater,'' a mix of water, coal fines, and clay, 
and associated contaminants, extended far downstream. The coal slurry 
spill impacted fish, endangered freshwater mussels, other benthic 
organisms, supporting aquatic habitat, and designated critical habitat 
for two federally listed fish. Federally listed bats and migratory 
birds may have also been affected acutely due to a loss of a food 
supply, and chronically due to possible accumulation of contaminants 
through the food chain.
    Under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, 
Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 as amended, 42 U.S.C. 
9601 et. seq., ``natural resource trustees may assess damages to 
natural resources resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a 
hazardous substance * * * and may seek to recover those damages.'' 
Natural resource damage assessments (NRDA) are separate from the 
cleanup actions undertaken at a hazardous waste or spill site, and 
provide a process whereby the natural resource trustees can determine 
the proper compensation to the public for injury to natural resources. 
The natural resource damage assessment process seeks to: (1) Determine 
whether injury to, or loss of, trust resources has occurred; (2) 
ascertain the magnitude of the injury or loss; (3) calculate the 
appropriate compensation for the injury, including the cost of 
restoration; and (4) develop a restoration plan that will restore, 
rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire equivalent resources for those 
resources that were injured or lost. The judicial consent decree dated 
March 5, 2001, requires that the DOI utilize natural resource damages 
for reimbursement of past natural resource damage assessment costs, and 
restoration, replacement or acquisition of endangered and threatened 
fishes and mussels located in the Powell River and its watershed or 
restoration, replacement or acquisition of their habitats or ecosystems 
which support them, or restoration planning, implementation, oversight 
and monitoring.
    The DOI is the sole acting Federal natural resource trustee for 
this case. The DOI has designated the Northeast Regional Director of 
the Service to act as its authorized official with regard to this

[[Page 5912]]

case. This RP/EA has been developed by the Service in order to address 
and evaluate restoration alternatives related to natural resource 
injuries within the Powell River watershed. The purpose of this RP/EA 
is to design and evaluate possible alternatives that will restore, 
rehabilitate, replace, or acquire natural resources and the services 
provided by those resources that approximate those injured as a result 
of the spill using funds collected as natural resource damages for 
injuries, pursuant to the CERCLA. This RP/EA describes the affected 
environment, identifies potential restoration alternatives and their 
plausible environmental consequences, and describes the proposed 
preferred alternative.
    Interested members of the public are invited to review and comment 
on the RP/EA. Copies of the RP/EA are available for review at the 
Service's Virginia Field Office in Gloucester, Virginia and at the 
Service's Southwestern Virginia Field Office located at 330 Cummings 
Street, Suite A, Abingdon, Virginia 24210. Written comments will be 
considered and addressed in the final RP/EA.
    Author: The primary author of this notice is John Schmerfeld, U.S. 
Fish & Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office, 6669 Short Lane, 
Gloucester, Virginia 23061.

    Authority: The authority for this action is the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 
1980 as amended, commonly known as Superfund (42 U.S.C. 9601 et 
seq.), and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Regulations found 
at 43 CFR part 11.

    Dated: January 17, 2003.
Mamie A. Parker,
Regional Director, Region 5, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of 
the Interior, Designated Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 03-2649 Filed 2-4-03; 8:45 am]