By Peggy Parks
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56 What Are the Environmental Effects of Coal Mining? “ Surface mining, including open pit or strip mining, is less dangerous than underground mining, but has a greater impact on surface landscapes. ” —Environmental Literacy Council, “Coal Mining,” June 26, 2008. org. The Environmental Literacy Council works with educators in the teaching of environmental science. “ Mountaintop removal, which provides a mere 7 percent of the nation’s coal, is done by clear-cutting forests, blowing the tops off of mountains, and then dumping the debris into streambeds—an undeniably catastrophic way of mining.
S. history. On planet will be irreparaDecember 22, 2008, a massive bly damaged. sludge impoundment burst, releasing hundreds of millions of gallons of coal waste into the surrounding area. The thick, gray sludge buried over 300 acres (121ha) of residential property and farmland near the coal plant, as well as spread through rivers and seeped into groundwater. A January 2009 article on the Intelligence Daily news site describes the damage: ” The spill killed a large number of fish, downed trees and power lines, destroyed an adjacent road and railway, ruptured a major gas line, and filled two inlets of the Emory River, which flows into the Clinch River and then into the Tennessee River—upon which millions of people depend for their drinking water.
Environmental Protection Agency that estimates that by 2012 mountaintop removal projects in Appalachia will have destroyed or seriously damaged more than 1 million acres (405,000ha) of forest—an area larger than the state of Delaware— and buried over 1,000 miles (1,610km) of mountain streams. Land Reclamation In accordance with the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, once coal mines are no longer in use, mining operations are required by law to restore mine sites as close as possible to the way they were prior to the mines being built.