How is coal extracted from mountaintop removal mines?
Coal and debris are removed using enormous earth-moving machines known as draglines, which stand 22 stories high and can hold 24 compact cars their buckets. These machines can cost up to $100 million, but are favored by coal companies because they displace the need for hundreds of miners .
How does mountaintop removal work?
“ Mountaintop removal /valley fill is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the seams of coal. Mountaintop removal can involve removing 500 feet or more of the summit to get at buried seams of coal. The earth from the mountaintop is then dumped in the neighboring valleys.”
How does mountaintop removal affect the environment?
The impacts on communities of blowing up mountains and dumping the rubble into streams are profound. It forces residents to contend with contaminated drinking water, increased flooding, dangerous coal slurry impoundments, and higher rates of cancer and other health issues.
Why is mountaintop removal bad?
Toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, selenium, and arsenic leach into local water supplies, poisoning drinking water. This destructive practice, known as mountaintop – removal mining , sends carcinogenic toxins like silica into the air, affecting communities for miles around.
What is the advantage of mountaintop removal for miners?
“With mountaintop removal you’re able to mine seams that you could not mine with underground mining because they are so thin—but it’s a very high-quality coal,” said Roger Horton, a truck driver and United Mine Workers Union representative who works at a mountaintop site in Logan, West Virginia.
Is mountaintop removal mining legal?
The Clean Air Act, which is implemented and enforced by the EPA, may also be relevant to surface mining due to the dust it generates, but it has rarely been enforced in this way. All Appalachian states where mountaintop removal is present, except for Tennessee, have opted to enforce the law on their own.
How many mountains have been destroyed by mountaintop removal?
Tragically, mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains encompassing more than 1 million acres of Central and Southern Appalachia.
Which type of mining is likely the least harmful to the environment?
Sub- Surface mining is likely the least harmful to the environment.
What can be done to stop mountaintop removal?
Top 3 Ways to Rid U.S. Need for Mountaintop Removal Coal 1 Be Energy Efficient. One answer is that opportunities for energy efficiency in the US are huge. 2 Invest in Renewable Energy. 3 Stop Exporting Coal.
What are the environmental impacts of strip mining?
Surface mining (another name for “strip mining”) can severely erode the soil or reduce its fertility; pollute waters or drain underground water reserves; scar or altar the landscape; damage roads, homes, and other structures; and destroy wildlife.
How does mountaintop coal removal pose a threat to human health?
Since 2007, peer-reviewed studies by researchers from more than a dozen universities have concluded that mountaintop removal coal mining contributes to significantly higher rates of birth defects, cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases among individuals living in the region where it occurs.
How does mountaintop mining harm forests?
EPA estimates that at current rates of deforestation from mountaintop removal , the total forest loss by 2012 would be 1,408,372 acres—or 2,200 square miles. As the forests are converted from interior to edge, they lose much of their ecological function supporting the floral and faunal diversity of Appalachia.