Mountaintop Removal: Stripping Kentucky's Beauty Essay

1510 Words 7 Pages
What Regulations? Mountaintop removal (MTR) is a form of strip mining in which explosives are used to blast off the tops of mountains in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath. This is a much quicker and easier process of mining that takes less manpower and time. Even though this process of using explosives seems to be the better option, the by-products from the explosives are so harmful that they should not be ignored. It is said to be the “most ruthless” method to mine coal as inexpensively and swiftly as possible. Though a minimal amount of rules and regulations regarding mountaintop removal exist, they are seldomly applied. An article in On Earth Magazine, by Erik Fleece, goes as far as calling this process an …show more content…
The valleys are filled with waste and rubble that leak into the ground and affect the streams. Once the coal is removed, it needs to be cleaned and processed. The waste from the process, which is a thick black sludge, is then stored in makeshift reservoirs in nearby valleys or abandoned underground mines, which often times leak into the water supply. And finally, the mining companies are supposed to reclaim the land that they have destroyed. This means that the land they used for mining has to return to its original natural look and shape, but the mountain that was once there is not there anymore and broad, plateau-like mesas remain.
This process of mountaintop removal is harming people, animals, and ecosystems all together. There are several health issues that are linked to MTR and its process. Coal contains toxins, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “in addition to the more than 2000 miles of streams buried by valley fills, thousands more miles have been contaminated with sediment, heavy metals, and acid mine drainage, a toxic orange syrup that kills everything in its path. And these are headwaters, so their contamination affects all life downstream.” The streams that flow through cities and suburbs are filled with chemical by products. The locals who live around these plants cannot use their own water in their house, let alone drink it. For example, in Letcher County, Kentucky, children suffered

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