Streamline - Winter 2015 - (Page 23)
BY SCOTT MCNALLY, SOURCE WATER TECHNICIAN
powerful resource that has played a pivotal role in shaping the world we know today. In Virginia, the first recorded
discovery of coal was along the James River in 1701. By 1748, commercial production of coal in the greater Richmond area
had begun in the Eastern Coalfields. Shortly after, mining began as well in the Valley and Southwest Virginia Coalfields. After
the Civil War, around the 1880s, Virginia's coal economy began to pick up major steam with the installment of major railroads
throughout the state. One of the most famous mines in the state, the Pocahontas mine, is known for having a coal seam 13 feet
thick. By World War I, the Pocahontas mine was supplying a major portion of the coal used by the U.S. Navy. From the 1950s
to present day, coal has only been produced in the Southwest fields. Extending from Pennsylvania to Alabama, this region is
part of the very productive Appalachian Coal Basin.
CoaL IS a
Virginia's history of coal mining is a
source of pride for many communities,
as it was a major ingredient in making the industrial revolution possible in
this state. However, as with most things
good, there is usually a price to pay. In
this case, it is the impact on another
facet of Virginian pride, our beautiful
forests, mountainous landscapes and
History aside, the story of coal starts
with the various extraction processes.
Coal mines are grouped into two main
categories: surface and underground.
There are a few different types of surface
mining, which are all aimed at extracting coal from seams near the surface.
Strip mining and open-pit mining are
two of the most common along with
the infamous process of mountaintop
removal. Strip and open-pit mining are
both somewhat similar and involve the
removal of overburden from the surface.
Explosives are commonly used to break
up rock formations above and around
the coal seams. Mountaintop removal
involves using explosives to remove the
upper portion of a summit to expose
coal seams below. Mountaintop is not
recommended under any circumstance
and has severe consequences for surface
Underground mining of coal is performed by two basic methods, longwall
and room and pillar mining. They both
require the installation of a shaft for
workers to reach the coal and systems
for moving material out of the mine.
Explosives are typically used in room
and pillar mining, while longwall mining utilizes mechanical removal of coal.
Surface and underground mines both
have their fair share of environmental
impacts on water sources. Acid mine
drainage is one of the most common
impacts and occurs when mining
exposes metal sulfides. These are dissolved into water to form toxic and
highly acidic runoff. Underground mines
increase the chance that this water will
be able to interact with groundwater and
contaminate the water table. Surface
mines also increase the likelihood of
groundwater contamination, but they
are more likely to contaminate surface
waters. Acid mine drainage is one the
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2015
From the President: Performance Evaluation
From the Executive Director: Save the Date!
Professional or Job Holder: Which Will You Be?
Emergencies: Do You Have A Plan?
Finding Your Way
Hearing Protection – Keep Your Employees Safe
Economic Opportunity: USDA Rural Development/Virginia
Rate Setting – It’s Easy?
Throwing My Loop: Fresh Water
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
2015-2016 Membership Directory
Board of Directors
VRWA Members Corner
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Winter 2015