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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining - Essay Example

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Mountaintop removal coal mining is the mining of coal on steep terrains or mountain tops. It is a strip mining method where coal deposits are extracted from below the surface of mountain tops and steep slopes of mountains or valleys…
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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
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Download file to see previous pages The first process of this heavily mechanized mining method is clearing of any vegetation in the site, and then powerful explosives are deployed turning the immediate surface weak thus making it easy for powerful machines to dig through it. Big trucks are continuously being filled with earth debris which is constantly taken away from the site. Then a powerful machine known as the dragline digs through the rocks to expose the coal deposits. Finally, giant machines scoop the coal and deposit the load on waiting trucks for transportation (Perks 2).
This mining method is actively taking place in the Central Appalachia region spanning across four states that include, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky in Central America (Perks 2). A continuous increase in electricity demand and a reduction in the once easily accessed coal has led to the ever increasing coal mines in the Central Appalachian mountain tops. This has resulted to the destruction of mountaintops in the hundreds thus loosing the beauty they once possessed since the land is left bare with little or no vegetation. Many environmental organizations’ have called to the immediate halt of this mining method since they argue it poses eminent danger to the environment and to the wellbeing of the surrounding communities.
The environmental implications brought about by this economic activity cannot be understated. The damage that has been caused by the mountaintop removal coal mining method on the water bodies, the wildlife and the forest cover around the Central Appalachian mountaintops has led to a disrupted ecosystem (Perks 2). From the cleared forest cover to the disposal of waste and debris into the neighboring valleys, the environmental degradation of the Central Appalachian region has been on a steady rise....
This valley fills become large expanses of barren land, which because of their toxic nature it becomes impossible to develop. Mining companies do not embark on reforestation exercises as required by law and instead plant non native grass to replace the forest of hardwoods that was once present (Perks 4). The remaining waterways that are not entirely blocked by the mine valley fills run the risk of being heavily polluted. The toxic nature of these valley fills makes the water streams that run from them carry toxic chemicals and trace metals that are not only harmful to the aquatic life, but also to the surrounding wildlife and human population (Perks 3). EPA estimates that over 60% of the streams located in the Central Appalachian region are compromised by the hazardous amount of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. A study done by the EPA has found levels of magnesium, calcium, manganese, dissolved solids and water hardness have increased significantly, thus greatly compromising the quality of the water to any life form around the area (Perks 3). Apart from the solid waste that create valley fills, the liquid waste that is created by water that is used to wash the coal for impurities so that it can be ready for the market. The liquid waste is a mixture of carcinogenic chemicals, small particles of coal that contain mercury and arsenic which are considered harmful heavy metals and all other chemical compounds found in coal (Chhotray 5). Liquid waste from the mining process is put in storage in an enormous, risky impoundment that is usually located near a water body. Backwater spills that frequently occur from these ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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