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Mountaintop Removal Mining In West Virginia

1470 words - 6 pages

Mountaintop Removal Mining in West Virginia


One of the most frequently talked about and discussed ethical issues, that I have heard a lot about since moving and living in the state of West Virginia for over a year, is about Mountain top removal mining. Mountain top removal poses two ethical questions, the environmental hazards of mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia? And the economical benefits and resources it brings to the state? What is right and what is wrong; an answer or a problem?

In order to find the benefits and hazards of mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia, I used the various resources and gathered information from both sides of the questions posed, including economical benefits such as earnings, and environmental hazards such as ongoing experiments to clean up acid mine drainage. And some opinions written and expressed in newspaper articles and magazines.

Both the National Mining Associations, U.S News, Office of Surface Mining have studied environmental and economical issues and numerous newspaper articles found on the subject. Here is a brief overview on what mountaintop removal is. Mountaintop removal is a type of surface mining that has been granted a variance of approximate original contour and extracts an entire coal seam or seams running through the upper fraction of a mountain, ridge, or hill. The coal must be extracted by removing all the overburden [topsoil] and by creating a level plateau or supporting certain post-mining land uses.

In the beginng of try to answer the ethical question of was mountaintop removal mining right or wrong for West Virginia, I decided to look at the environmental hazards first, exploring all the possible data and results that was available to me, and this is what I found. Mountaintop removal mining some times gas dangerous impacts on the environment. According to the U.S News and a survey done in 1994 by the state Department of Water Resources found that all but 24 percent of West Virginia's streams and rivers are polluted. In rivers such as Little Coal sediment from mountaintop removal operations has filled and polluted the river to the point that water only flows inches deep on top of several feet of gelatinous brown muck.

The other environmental effects Mountaintop removal has on the environment, It loosens the sediment on top of the mountain with the same mixture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil that could be used to build a bomb and blow up the empire State building, mining explosions are 10 to 100 times stronger. The explosions loosen up the rocks and big machines called draglines remove the broken rock and pile it into dump trucks. The dump trucks then take the rubble and dump what is once a mountain into the surrounding valley—thus valley fills. Valley fills cover streams that cause serious flooding, acid mine drainage, then takes all the other substances and turns streams orange...

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