Mountaintop Removal as a Social Problem

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Mountaintop Removal Mountaintop Removal as a Social Problem William Moores Kaplan Career Institute-Nashville Mountaintop Removal as a Social Problem There is an ecological problem of mammoth proportions happening right now in our state. Our streams are being polluted, wildlife killed at an astounding rate, and the landscape changed in the blink of an eye. What is causing all of this you ask? It is a mining process known as mountaintop removal and it is having an astounding effect on not just our local environment, but also the entire world. The practice of Mountaintop Coal Mining (MCM) began in the 1960’s and 1970’s in West Virginia and later expanded into Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The process is very simple and extremely inexpensive for the coal companies. Typically, they will clear the area of all trees, plants, and wildlife setting aside the topsoil for later use. Next, come the placing of dynamite or other explosive charges into the ground. These charges are detonated and the excess soil and rock, or “overburden” as it is called, is removed with heavy excavation equipment so it is easier to get at the coal seems within the mountain. With nowhere to put the overburden, the coal companies dump it over the side of the mountain into what they call a “valley fill”. This process is repeated several times until all of the coal from the seam is removed. The coal then moves from the mountain to another area, where site workers wash and load it into train cars before sending the coal off for processing. The chemical run off from washing the coal is placed in what they called a “slurry”. These slurries are a problem because they are radioactive, contain lethal amounts of hard metals, and are prone to rupturing. The only thing keeping the liquid in place is a retaining wall made of dirt and rock. Finally, the mountain goes through what the coal industry

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