Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop removal mining site in southern Virginia

Mountaintop removal mining site in southern Virginia

It is one of the greatest environmental and human rights catastrophes in American history, and it’s taking place just southwest of our nation’s capital. In the coalfields of Appalachia, individuals, families and entire communities are being driven off their land by flooding, landslides and blasting resulting from mountaintop removal coal mining.

Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop, and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys and burying streams.

Mountain removal mining has been called the systematic genocide of Appalachia.  Almost 500 named mountains have been completely destroyed. Over 1,500 miles of streams have been buried with the resulting toxic debris. Over two million pounds of explosives are used in the South every day, and in West Virginia alone almost a half a million acres have been leveled.

But as devastating as it is ecologically, there is more to this issue than a loss of beauty and scenery. There is a human cost.

Families and communities near these mining sites are forced to contend with continual blasting from mining operations that can take place up to 300 feet from their homes and operate 24 hours a day. Communities near mining sites also suffer from airborne dust and debris, floods that have left hundreds dead and thousands homeless, and contamination of their drinking water supplies. Clusters of cancer and illness are rampant near mountaintop removal sites.

In Laurel Creek, West Virginia, young children have blood in their urine. Point to any house in Sandlick, and you’ll find someone with a brain tumor. Up the road in Hopkins Fork, almost every resident’s gall bladder has had to be removed.

Mountaintop removal is a humanitarian crisis, an ecological catastrophe, and a national disgrace.


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