Thursday, January 18, 2007

Updated: TransAlta Abandons Plans for Centralia Coal Mine

A correction is in order. The Pit 7 Project that is being scaled back is a distinct project from the West Field project referred to in the SeattlePI article. Jonathan Smith of the ACE clarified the issue for me. The West Field is a separate project proposal that TransAlta is still considering. According to Mr. Smith: "The former Pit 7 project permit application has been revised, and now entails adding two railroad sidings along side the existing rail spur by which the Powder River Basin coal is and will continue to be delivered to the Centralia powerplant."

Original, uncorrected post: In an apparent reversal of its previously announced plans to open a new pit at its Centralia mine, TransAlta has significantly scaled back its operations, according to an announcement in the 1/18/07 Federal Register

"SUMMARY: The permit applicant, TransAlta Centralia Mining LLC (TCM) has greatly reduced the scope of its proposed coal mining project at Centralia, Washington. Therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is withdrawing its Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jonathan Smith at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle Regulatory Branch, 4735 E. Marginal Way South, Seattle, Washington 98134, (206) 764-6910, or e-mail Mr. Mark Cline, at the Washington Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, SE., Lacey, Washington 98503, or e-mail

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Corps and Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) published a notice of intent in the April 7, 2006, issue of the Federal Register (71 FR 17840) to prepare an EIS on TCM's proposed Pit 7 Mining Project. Since that time, TCM's proposed project has evolved from a coal mining project, affecting over 100 acres of wetlands and streams, to a railroad upgrade project for importing coal from existing, already permitted mines in Montana and Wyoming. This modified proposal appears likely to affect less than three acres of wetlands. Therefore, the Corps and Ecology plan to conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed rail upgrade project during the first half of year 2007. An EIS would be prepared only if results of the environmental assessment indicate potentially significant, adverse environmental impacts."