Saturday, October 16, 2010

EPA Threatens To Stop Arch Coals Spruce No. 1 Mine

Spruce Mine No. 1
The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to veto another mountaintop removal operation.  We have been down this road before and EPA approved most of the mines anyway.    EPA is preliminarily recommending [note the prelim] that Arch Coal’s proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County should be stopped because it “would likely have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife.”

The Center opposes mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal involves dynamiting the tops off mountains  to get at the coal beneath while dumping the resulting rubble, known as spoil, into nearby valleys and streams. In this aerial photo, part of the work already done at the site of the Spruce Mine can be seen alongside Pigeonroost Hollow, at right. Photo by Vivian Stockman, flyover courtesy of Southwings.

In its review, the E.P.A. found that the project would bury more than seven miles of the Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch streams under 110 million cubic yards of spoil, killing much in them and sending contaminants downstream.

Arch Coal is challenging the recommendation and says it plans to spend $250 million on the project, creating 250 jobs and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues in a struggling region. The E.P.A. believes the construction of waste ponds as well as other discharges from the Spruce No. 1 mining operation would spread pollutants beyond the boundaries of the mine itself, causing further damage to wildlife and the environment. Arch Coal had proposed to construct new streams to replace the buried rivers, but the E.P.A. said they could not reproduce the numbers and variety of fish and plant life supported by the indigenous streams. (NYT, 10/15/2010)

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