The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian Coalfields (2011 Final)
Notice EPA announced the availability of the final report. [May 27, 2011]
Our conclusions, based on evidence from the peer-reviewed literature and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement released in 2005, are that Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills lead directly to five principal alterations of stream ecosystems:
- Springs and ephemeral, intermittent and perennial streams are permanently lost with the removal of the mountain and from burial under fill,
- concentrations of major chemical ions are persistently elevated downstream,
- degraded water quality reaches levels that are acutely lethal to organisms in standard aquatic toxicity tests,
- selenium concentrations are elevated, reaching concentrations that have caused toxic effects in fish and birds, and
- macroinvertebrate and fish communities are consistently degraded.
This report reviews the state of the science on the environmental impacts of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills (MTM-VF) on streams in the central appalachian coalfields. The coalfields cover about 12 million acres in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. The final report reviews literature relevant to evaluating six potential consequences of MTM-VF operations:
- Loss of headwater resources;
- Impacts on water quality;
- Impacts from aquatic toxicity;
- Impacts on aquatic ecosystems
- Cumulative impacts of multiple mining operations; and
- Effectiveness of on-site reclamation and mitigation activities.
This download(s) is distributed solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality guidelines. It has not been formally disseminated by EPA. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.
- (153 pp, 8 MB, about PDF)