An EPA regulator has recommended revoking the permit for a planned mountaintop strip mine in West Virginia, on the basis of wildlife impacts.
In a report submitted last month and made public on Friday, Shawn M. Garvin, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for the Mid-Atlantic, said that Arch Coal’s proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County should be stopped because it “would likely have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife.”The company plans to sue, so this may not be the last word on the subject.
In 2007, the Bush administration approved the project, which would involve dynamiting the tops off mountains over 2,278 acres to get at the coal beneath while dumping the resulting rubble, known as spoil, into nearby valleys and streams. The Obama administration announced last year that it would review the decision, prompting the mine owner, Arch Coal, based in St. Louis, to sue.
In its review, the E.P.A. found that the project would bury more than seven miles of the Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch streams under 110 million cubic yards of spoil, killing everything in them and sending downstream a flood of contaminants, toxic substances and life-choking algae....
The E.P.A. said the construction of waste ponds as well as other discharges from the Spruce No. 1 mining operation would spread pollutants beyond the boundaries of the mine itself, causing further damage to wildlife and the environment.
Arch Coal had proposed to construct new streams to replace the buried rivers, but the E.P.A. said they could not reproduce the numbers and variety of fish and plant life supported by the indigenous streams.