I was asked if I would be interested in writing an article about Mountaintop Removal by Denny of Backwoods Drifter. Having 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.”
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 help. Everyone 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.