Apr 02

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Abandoned coal mines leave an enduring water legacy

Acid mine drainage makes waters a rusty orange color (image via EPA)

When coal is mined in Pennsylvania, other minerals and metals including iron sulfide and aluminum are exposed and left behind. They’re typically harmless as long as they stay dry, but…

Ryan: “As you get more precipitation, your water table increases. If you have too much groundwater it can fill up voids in underground coal mines that were generally dry.”

Daniel Ryan of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says this creates acid mine drainage that can seep into and pollute nearby waterways.

Modern mines are required to protect water resources, but efforts to reduce damage from old abandoned coal mines will be required for years to come.

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