Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (Nov. 9, 2006) – The Maryland Department of Environment’s (MDE) Bureau of Mines received top honors for environmental excellence from the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining for reclamation and acid mine drainage treatment at Shallmar Coal Refuse in Garrett County.

“MDE is pleased to accept this national award. The Shallmar project exhibited outstanding and innovative reclamation practices to eliminate health, safety and environmental hazards associated with the abandoned mines,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick.

Mined first by pick and shovel, this area was actively mined until 1977. The project reclaimed the Wolf Den Mine, which was abandoned in the 1940’s leaving abandoned, deep mine portals that were in danger of collapsing and approximately 300,000 cubic yards of coal waste that had been dumped down slope of the mine leaving an unstable coal refuse bank behind the town of Shallmar. Adding to the health and safety hazards, surface mining operations beginning in the 1950’s left vertical highwalls within 300 feet of roads and eroding surface mine spoil. Acid drainage with a pH of 3.5 and high concentrations of dissolved metals flowed directly into the North Branch of the Potomac River. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff caused the coal refuse bank to erode and slide into the town below requiring construction of ditches to protect the town from refuse bank runoff during rainstorms.

Using the federal Office of Surface Mining’s abandoned mine reclamation funds, MDE Bureau of Mines contractors sealed two mine portals, removed 140,000 cubic yards of unstable coal refuse, installed a water-powered lime doser to reduce acidity and re-vegetated 17.5 acres with trees and grass. The project construction started in June of 2002 and was completed in the summer of 2005 at a cost of more than $1.3 million.

The U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) recognized environmental excellence in five states presenting its annual Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards at the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs annual conference. The awards honored outstanding abandoned mine reclamation in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Dakota, and Montana.

This year, Maryland won a Category II National Award, which recognizes excellence for smaller projects in states that receive smaller amounts of federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds. Twenty-three states and three Indian tribes compete for this national award.

Since 1986, OSM has presented awards to coal mine operators who completed exemplary reclamation. A parallel award program for abandoned mine land reclamation began in 1992. The objective was to give public recognition to those responsible for the nation's most outstanding achievement in environmentally sound surface mining and land reclamation and to encourage the exchange and transfer of successful reclamation technology. For more information about the OSM Mining Reclamation Awards, visit

The MDE Bureau of Mines winning entry with photos is available online at