Mountaintop removal is a safer way of mining coal than digging a mine, but West Virginia should really consider the reasons why we should stop this process.
- It destroys the beauty of West Virginia. Mountaintop removal is done by surface mining the tops of mountains and ridge lines. While West Virginia has plenty of hills and mountains, these spots will never be the same once they are mined. Powerful explosives are used to get 400 vertical feet under the surface of the dirt, and then the dirt is thrown into a valley. Once all mining is done the mountain is supposed to be put back the way it was found, but it will never be the same. The vegetation will taka long time to come back or may never come back at all. While the dirt is being pushed into the valley it can hold back head water of rivers as well. In the time that mountaintop removal has been practiced 2,000 miles of streams have been compromised and by 2020, close to 1.4 million acres of forest and mountaintops will have been compromised
This is a drawing of the mountain before any works is done.
This is the mountain after the hole is blasted and dirt begins to be shoved into the valley.
- There is evidence now of health issues in those surrounding areas where mountain top removal has gone on. West Virginia legislature is looking into reports that those who live near these areas experience health problems like birth defects, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. There are over 24 peer reviewed reports on the subject that environmentalist are hoping will take into account. Small rock particles, silica, and heavy metals have been found at ground level near these mines, which worries those surrounding them. The heavy metals, such as cadmium, selenium, and arsenic get into the water system and could be what is making people sick.
- It’s bad for wildlife. While the water is compromised by the heavy metals coming from the mining, it can make wildlife sick or even kill them by poisoning their blood stream. Aquatic animals are already under attack because of the dirt pushed into the valley that takes up the water heads. There also is a lack of vegetation due to the clearing to blast the mountain, and even when it restored it could take years or may never grow back. Lack of vegetation will send wild life else where or may even starve them out. A lot of West Virginia families depend on hunting seasons to stock their freezers for the year.
The thought behind mountaintop removal is that it saves lives, but clearly it may not. If something isn’t done West Virginia and all the Appalachian states are going to continue to lose their beauty, health, and wildlife.