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OHIO FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/18/83)

decided: March 18, 1983.

OHIO FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board in the case of Ohio Farmers Insurance Company v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, No. 80-041-G.

COUNSEL

Stephen C. Braverman, with him John M. Elliott and Roy Alan Cohen, of counsel: Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish & Kauffman, for petitioner.

Peter Shelley, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 19]

Ohio Farmers Insurance Company appeals from an Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) adjudication, sustaining a Department of Environmental Resources (DER) action*fn1 which declared as forfeit $254,750 worth of surety bonds issued by the insurance company and posted by Ralph A. Veon, Inc. (Veon) for five surface mining sites in Little Beaver Township.

Although the EHB did not make findings of fact concerning reclamation conditions at the Veon sites, uncontroverted testimony of record provides a sufficient basis for reconstructing the events which led to DER's forfeiture action.

Veon has been in operation as a surface coal and clay mining company since 1954, first under the control of Ralph Veon and later under the ownership and management of three other individuals.*fn2 From 1969 until his retirement in January of 1978, DER mining inspector Herbert Strum monitored the Veon pits. Sometime thereafter, John Meehan inspected the sites until 1979, when DER replaced him with Merle Urey.

Inspector Urey first inspected the five Veon sites in 1979, observing that some of the pits were inactive and thus in need of reclamation. He therefore cited

[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

Veon for backfilling violations and presented it with a reclamation schedule.

By letter dated October 30, 1979 to Veon's president, DER suspended three of the company's mining permits because of backfilling reclamation violations*fn3 and further ordered the company to cease and desist from all mining activities ...


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