Another Study, More Evidence of Mountaintop Removal Dangers

Study shows link between cancer and mine waste

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With the recent mining tragedy in West Virginia there has been argument enough that mountaintop removal mining takes the human element out of mining – that is, machines extracting coal from deep within mines supplant the human cost of mining.

A new study shows that this belief has no merit.

According to researchers at West Virginia University and Virginia Tech, West Virginians living near streams polluted by mine waste are more likely to die of cancer. This study is the first to see the connection between the health of Appalachian streams and the health of coalfield residents. If you didn’t know, mountaintop removal mining is a method that blows up mountains and dumps mine waste into streams.

 In January an article in the scientific journal Science argued that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities. Watch one of the authors of that article on the Colbert Report.

Thankfully the latest report comes at a time when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to curb the practice of mountaintop removal mining. In late March, the EPA proposed to veto a permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia—one of the largest mountaintop removal projects ever approved—on the grounds that mine operations would violate the Clean Water Act. And this month, the EPA adopted new guidelines aimed at significantly limiting the irreversible damage to Appalachian waterways caused by mountaintop removal.

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.