Pacific Coast Coal Company (PCCC) mined coal from the 1980s to late 1990s at John Henry No. 1 Mine. This mine is located on privately owned land in unincorporated King County and in the City of Black Diamond. The mine and its operations are regulated by several agencies, including:
- U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE): Mining permit and post-mining land reclamation.
- Washington State Department of Ecology: Water Quality permit.
- King County: Grading permit.
OSMRE is the primary licensing agency for coal mines in Washington. OSMRE regulates the stages and progress of mining operations in Washington.
We require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for stormwater and/or wastewater discharges from the site. The Clean Water Act requires NPDES permits for coal mines during all phases of mining. The purpose of an NPDES permit is to protect water quality from discharges associated with site operations. Mining can cause water pollution during mining, during inactive periods, as well as during reclamation. We have required PCCC to operate under a water quality permit since it opened and will continue that requirement throughout the reclamation process.
PCCC is not currently mining
PCCC applied to OSMRE for authorization to resume coal mining, and they received OSMRE’s approval on April 18, 2018. PCCC received a time limit of about 18 months to resume mining, but as of September 2019, they have not started mining. PCCC will need to apply for another authorization from OSMRE if they wish to start mining after this 18-month period.
PCCC has started to reclaim the site
Federal mining laws require land reclamation on parts of a site where mining has ceased. On April 17, 2019, PCCC informed OSMRE that the company is proceeding with reclamation of previously mined areas. OSMRE staff inspect the mine every month. We also conduct site inspections to evaluate the site conditions and PCCC’s compliance with the existing water quality permit. You can access our inspection reports at:
We are currently drafting a water quality permit renewal
PCCC submitted an NPDES permit renewal application to us in January 2018, with additional site information in February 2019. We are currently drafting a renewed permit.
This permit is important because it sets limits on the concentration of pollutants in water generated from rainfall runoff (stormwater) from the site and water needed to clean truck tires. The pollutants we are concerned about with limits are turbidity (water clarity), phosphorous, some metals, and pH (acid/alkaline levels). We established these concentration limits and required best management practices to protect the nearby streams and wetlands that flow into Ginder Lake and Lake Sawyer.
Next steps for permit renewal
Once we complete the draft permit renewal, we will make it available for public review and comment. We will consider public comments before issuing a final permit.
If you would like us to notify you directly about the comment period on the draft permit, please email or write to:
Tricia Miller, Permit Coordinator
Washington State Department of Ecology
Northwest Regional Office
3190 - 160th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98008-5452