Science Inventory

The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian Coalfields (External Review Draft)

Notice:

EPA is announcing the release of the report,The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian Coalfields (External Review Draft), for public review and comment as announced in an April 12, 2010 Federal Register Notice.

The deadline for comments closed on September 3, 2010.

Citation:

U.S. EPA. The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian Coalfields (External Review Draft). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-09/138A, 2010.

Impact/Purpose:

This report assesses 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 draft report will be externally peer reviewed by EPA's Science Advisory Board in early 2010.

Description:

This report assesses the state of the science on the environmental impacts of mountaintop mines and valley fills (MTM-VF) on streams in the Central Appalachian Coalfields. Our review focused on the aquatic impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, which, as its name suggests, involves removing all or some portion of the top of a mountain or ridge to expose and mine one or more coal seams. The excess overburden is disposed of in constructed fills in small valleys or hollows adjacent to the mining site. MTM-VF lead directly to five principal alterations of stream ecosystems: (1) springs, intermittent streams, and small perennial streams are permanently lost with the removal of the mountain and from burial under fill, (2) concentrations of major chemical ions are persistently elevated downstream, (3) degraded water quality reaches levels that are acutely lethal to standard laboratory test organisms, (4) selenium concentrations are elevated, reaching concentrations that have caused toxic effects in fish and birds and (5) macroinvertebrate and fish communities are consistently and significantly degraded.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT ( PUBLISHED REPORT/ REPORT)
Product Published Date: 04/01/2010
Record Last Revised: 12/08/2011
OMB Category: Influential
Record ID: 215267