Science Inventory

AQUATIC IMPACTS STUDY OF MOUNTAINTOP MINING AND VALLEY FILL OPERATIONS IN WEST VIRGINIA

Citation:

Fulk, F A. AQUATIC IMPACTS STUDY OF MOUNTAINTOP MINING AND VALLEY FILL OPERATIONS IN WEST VIRGINIA. Presented at Ohio Valley Regional Chapter of SETAC, Columbus, OH, May 13-14, 2004.

Impact/Purpose:

The purpose of this research project is to provide methods, tools and guidance to Regions, States and Tribes to support the TMDL program. This research will investigate new measurement methods and models to link stressors to biological responses and will use existing data and knowledge to develop strategies to determine the causes of biological impairment in rivers and streams. Research will be performed across multiple spatial scales, site, subwatershed, watershed, basin, ecoregion and regional/state.

Description:

The practice of mountaintop mining and valley fill operations in West Virginia is fraught with controversy. In 1999, EPA, along with several state and federal agencies, initiated an environmental impact study (EIS) to investigate the economic, social and ecological impacts of the mountaintop mining and valley fill operations in the southwest corner of West Virginia. This presentation will focus on the aquatic impacts study that was included in the overall EIS. There were two primary objectives of the aquatic impacts study: (1) is the biological condition of streams in areas with MTM/VF operations degraded compared to the condition of streams in unmined areas; and (2) are there "additive" biological impacts in streams where multiple fills are located?

To address the primary objectives of the study, fish, macroinvertebrates, water samples and habitat information were collected from sites in five watersheds within the MTM/VF region of West Virginia. The water chemistry and habitat data were also used to address a third objective: do chemical and physical habitat factors contribute to any potential differences in stream condition detected for fish and invertebrates? Insights gained from the third objective may provide information to develop guidance to "minimize, to the maximum extent practicable, the adverse environmental effects to the waters of the United States and to fish and wildlife resources from mountaintop mining operations, and to environmental resources that could be affected by the size and location of fill material in valley fill sites."

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 05/14/2004
Record Last Revised: 06/21/2006
Record ID: 83139

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION

ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH