Thursday, December 15, 2011

Duke University Study May Force Usabelli Wishbone Hill Coal Mine to Have to Completely Rework Project

While the local media is all but ignoring the fact that Usabelli has been conducting its preliminary work on the Wishbone Hill mountaintop removal coal mine illegally, new data, particularly a study just released by Duke University, raises serious questions about the long-term effect of that mine on the local downstream area's water quality:
The Charleston Gazette highlights a new study confirming the long-term water quality impacts of mountaintop removal mining. In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) this week, a team of Duke University researchers found that contamination from MTR mines is cumulative, and that mine sites abandoned decades ago still continue to contaminate waterways. 

The study authors looked at water quality at various points along West Virginia's Mud River, which flows past the massive Hobet mine and many others, and its tributaries. They found that mine waste pollution including selenium and sulfate increased along the river's course as it flowed past more and more MTR sites. In addition, sites supposedly reclaimed decades ago continued to contaminate the river.
Along with the Duke University study, other recent data suggests that local  Palmer and Wasilla residents' concerns about long-term and short-term health effects of Wishbone Hill and other proposed lower Matanuska River watershed mines may be - if anything - under-estimated:
Recent examinations of the health and environmental impacts of mountaintop mining – stripping the tops off of mountains to extract coal – has the practice looking pretty guilty. It apparently spikes birth defects, worsens chronic conditions like heart disease, and ruins land, and it doesn’t look like it will be clearing its name anytime soon. And PNAS has added one more strike to the list with new research that further demonstrates how mountaintop mining erodes long-term water quality and causes deformities in aquatic life.
Usabelli's own propaganda (PDF) on how the coal they will strip from Palmer's northern suburbs will be prepped for trucking through our over-crowded local arterials should raise alarms of anyone familiar with the new Duke University study's findings:
Controlled blasting techniques will be necessary to help fracture the conglomerate and rock layers, which can then be removed using excavators. UCM will use sequential delay blasting to limit the amount of explosives detonated at one time to reduce noise and vibration.

The overburden will then be removed and used according to the approved mining and reclamation plan. Finally, excavators will scoop up the coal and load it into trucks bound for the wash plant. After washing, the coal will be transported from the mine site to the customer.
The millions of tons of explosive-drenched, high mercury coal will be washed with billions of gallons of water.   The water will then enter the Moose Creek and other drainages' aquifers, to remain there, deforming plants, animals and people for generations to come, according to the Duke research team's studies.

Hopefully, Usabelli will be forced by the state or the US government to develop a plan that allows zero tolerance for the findings of these three new, critical studies.


Anonymous said...

Wishbone Hill does not include "mountain top removal." You are a liar.

Philip Munger said...

The processes the will use include many of the elements included in Duke's study's critique. And the process by which Usabelli will remove the coal is so similar in its effects on the watershed, that whatever differences there may be between mountaintop removal per se and removal of a mountain top and/or ridges surrounding it, as they intend to do, are minute.

Anonymous said...

So you admit that it isn't Mountain Top Removal mining. It is mining. Where exactly would you like to mine?

Anonymous said...

Hey, 1:20pm, how about we mine NOWHERE! All of this coal is leaving Alaska and being shipped to Asia, so how about we just let Asia mine their own coal and stay out of our environment.