Coal Waste Impoundments: Risks, Responses, and Alternatives
On October 11, 2000, a breakthrough of Martin County Coal Corporation’s coal waste impoundment released 250 million gallons of slurry near Inez, Kentucky. The 72-acre surface impoundment for coal processing waste materials broke through into a nearby underground coal mine. The spill caused no loss of human life, but environmental damage was significant, and local water supplies were disrupted. This incident prompted Congress to request the National Research Council to examine ways to reduce the potential for similar accidents in the future. This book, which is the result of that investigation, covers the engineering practices and standards for coal waste impoundments and ways to evaluate, improve, and monitor them. Also covered are the accuracy of mine maps and ways to improve surveying and mapping of mines, and alternative technologies for coal slurry disposal and utilization. The book contains advice for multiple audiences, including the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Office of Surface Mining, and other federal agencies; state and local policymakers and regulators; the coal industry and its consultants; and scientists and engineers.
Evolutionary and Revolutionary Technologies for Mining
This book from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences discusses mining technologies, current and forecasted, the importance of mining to the economy and the many environmental risks it proposes. Poor mining practices can literally destroy entire watersheds and parks for decades or centuries to come. Alternatives to existing practices that reduce such risks are critically needed, and this book examines them.
Environmental Impacts of Hard-rock Mining in Eastern Washington
U.W. - Forestry Resources and Ocean and Fisheries Sciences
This article from the University of Washington Colleges of Forestry Resources and Ocean and Fisheries Sciences discusses the impacts hard rock mining has had on the ecosystems of Eastern Washington near my own home. Washington State is home to literally thousands of abandoned hard rock mines dating back in some cases nearly a century. There are over 500,000 such abandoned mines across the United States. Acid drainage and leached heavy metals from such mines have done an almost inconceivable amount of long-term damage to fisheries, riparian habitats, wildlife, benthic organism, food chains, and even entire ecosystems. Cleanup of such nightmares is often stalled by legal barriers, bureaucracy, and in many instances challenges from special interest groups representing property owners and industries. This paper from R. Edmonds and D. Peplow of the University of Washington discusses how this has impacted Eastern Washington. The Methow River valley in North Central Washington is examined as a case study.
Hard-rock Mining on Federal Lands
This book from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences investigates the adequacy of the regulatory framework for mining of hard-rock minerals such as gold, silver, copper, and uranium on federal lands in the western United States, and was the result of a congressionally mandated study. Mining activity on over 350 million acres of federal lands in the western United States was reviewed. The committee concluded that the complex network of state and federal laws regulating hard-rock mining on federal lands are generally effective in providing environmental protection, and that a number of improvements are needed to make them adequate for natural resource protection and public safety.
Surface Coal Mining Effects on Ground Water Recharge
In this book the NRC investigates surface coal mining and its impact on ground water and surface water supplies and ecosystems. It is very much like the previous one, except that it addresses surface coal mining rather than hard rock mining. Subjects covered include an examination of the legal and regulatory framework surrounding surface coal mining activity, the hydrology of ground water recharge, and the methods used and their impacts on ground and surface water supplies and the ecosystems that depend on them.