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Mountaintop Removal – A Real Danger

Posted by cotojo on February 6, 2008

I was asked if I would be interested in writing an article about Mountaintop Removal by Denny of Backwoods DrifterHaving read several articles about this unsafe practice, I agreed.  It also reminded me of the tragic events in Aberfan in 1966 (see below).  I’m no environmentalist, but I do believe that the majority of governments and companies put greed and profits before anything, including life.

Few people outside the coalfields may know about Mountaintop Removal (MTR). Some 50 percent of American electricity comes from coal and 70 percent of coal comes from stripping with increasing amounts from mountaintop removal.

MTR represents a method of mining that decapitates mountains, endangers communities and damages local homes. Giant earthmovers are used to strip away foliage and dirt on top of the coal seam, sometimes lowering the mountain by as much as 500 feet to expose the coal.

In the United States, 100 tons of coal are extracted every two seconds. Around 70 percent of that coal comes from strip mines, and over the last 20 years, an increasing amount comes from mountaintop-removal sites.  This is completely destroying not only mountains, but also the ecosystem  by burying headwater streams. Waterborne pollutants that leach out from filled sites pose grave risks to people and wildlife downstream.

A study carried out in Eastern Kentucky University found that children suffer extraordinarily high rates of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and shortness of breath, tracing the causes to nearby streams containing sedimentation and dissolved minerals drained from area mine sites.

It is not just the cost in human lives, which the authorities seem to find ‘acceptable’, but the collateral damage to the whole ecosystem.  There are many alternatives to providing low-cost electricity, wind turbines for a start.  Yet governments globally are not implementing real alternatives.

 In 1966 disaster struck in Aberfan, Wales.

Some details are below, for more information on this tragedy click Here

144 people were killed including half the children in the school and five of their teachers, buried by a coal slag heap at Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. In one classroom 14 bodies were found and outside mothers struggled deep in mud, clamouring to find their children. Many were led away weeping. The deputy head teacher, Mr Beynon, was found dead. “He was clutching five children in his arms as if he had been protecting them,” said a rescuer.  As people arrived at the scene, they could hear the cries of those still trapped on the fringe of the coal waste.  One of the biggest problems facing the rescue operation was getting vehicles to the site. Many local miners shovelled to get the debris clear and worked non-stop, including one whose young daughter was thought to be dead.

George Thomas, Minister of State for Wales, said: “A generation of children has been wiped out. There is an abundance of tips of this sort in Wales, and we shall be looking for the possibilities that it could happen again.”

Aberfan Disaster 1966

Do you really want this sort of tragedy happening for the sake of cheaper electricity?  What price on life?

Click here to learn more about what is happening on your own doorstep and what you can do to helpEveryone has the right to clean air and clean water and should not have to live with the dusty atmosphere and contaminated water that MTR creates.

This is a simple request for readers and communities to get involved and read more about this appalling destruction, and if you can, write a short post about it.

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12 Responses to “Mountaintop Removal – A Real Danger”

  1. cotojo said

    Jan’s Funny Farm – Thank you for your comment.
    Yes it was a terrible tragedy, a whole generation of children lost in a few short minutes, and for what? Pay the fat cats, and do they really care?
    Have a good weekend,

  2. What a terrible tragedy. We can almost hear the long-ago cries of those who lost children that day.

  3. cotojo said

    Sameera – Thank you so much for your visit and comment 🙂
    It is unsettling to think that the cost to life is deemed so low, and it is this sort of thing that people need to be informed about.

    Take care,
    All the best to you 🙂

  4. Sameera said

    That was a very informative post and kind of unsettling as well.Seriously,human life has got very less value these days.Pity people put cost effectiveness and commercialization before humanity.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post and for visiting my blog.Take care.Cheers!

  5. cotojo said

    Dickiebo – Thanks for your comment.
    I remember Aberfan well. I was a young teenager at the time and the I watched with horror as it was shown on TV.
    I will add your link to the post.
    Have a good day,

  6. dickiebo said

    Aberfan, in 1966, is indelibly implanted on our minds. I mentioned it in one of my blogs, but your readers may like to read
    Thank you for remembering Aberfan.

  7. cotojo said

    Denny – Slurry is a major problem, not only with spills but also with the health hazards it creates. There are many alternatives to coal, but governments globally really don’t do a great deal about it, they will spout off as they usually do but not actually carry on with real action. They really need to enforce alternative means of generating power, but as per usual they will probably wait until there is no more coal!

    Take care,

  8. denny said

    We have had two major slurry spills – the first in 1972. Google Buffalo Creek Disaster. The other happened in 2000. 300milion gallons spilled in Inez, Kentucky into the Big Sandy river. I just don’t think there is anything good about coal. It’s a big contributor to Global Warming – Google CO2 emissions. Just so many negatives on a global scale.

  9. cotojo said

    Denny You are most welcome buddy 🙂
    Aberfan was a real tragedy caused by coal slurry which moved like an avalanche and killed so many. Lessons should be learnt from that, and MTR could so easily create the same danger.

    Have a good day,

  10. denny said

    Colin – Thank you very much! From you story it seems we are not the only ones who have paid a high price. I’ve never heard of the tragedy you mention but I’ll definitely read up on it.

    Thank you…

  11. cotojo said

    Bluedreamer – yes it was all very tragic, and I remember watching it on the news as the story unfolded. It was a very sad day indeed.
    All the best,

  12. oh i felt pity for those innocent victims
    esp that moment as they found a teacher with a student gosh this was terrible
    those kids have lot of dreams but then they ruined it by just that stupid deeds

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