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Effects of Coal Mining on Western Pennsylvania


A look at the history of mining in the region, its current effects on the ... supplies, gill clogging, general smothering, and toxicity from ingested metals. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Effects of Coal Mining on Western Pennsylvania

Effects of Coal Mining on Western Pennsylvania
  • A look at the history of mining in the region,
    its current effects on the environment, and what
    is being done.

PA Coal Distribution
Methods of Coal Mining
PA Coal Production, 1890-2000
Net Generation of Electricity by Fuel for PA
  • 1990
  • 1995-1999

Coal Used for Electricity Generation in PA, 1999
Coal Usage Comparison - United States and PA
  • The U.S total use of coal for electricity was
    about 50 in 1999.
  • The U.S. total use of natural gas for electricity
    was around 15 in 1999, while PAs was only about
  • U.S. total use of hydroelectric power was much
    higher than that of PA.
  • PA needs to consider other energy production

General Facts About Air Quality and Coal
  • Pollution caused by coal-fired power plants has
    increased more than 15 since 1992.
  • More than 150 million Americans live in
    communities with unhealthy air.
  • Coal produces approximately two times the amount
    of carbon dioxide as natural gas, and a third
    more CO2 per unit of heat than oil.
  • Coal-fired utility units identified as largest
    source of mercury in the United States, releasing
    approximately 50 tons of mercury annually.

Average Yearly Pollution Generated by a Typical
Coal Plant
  • 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx)
  • 220 tons of hydrocarbons
  • 225 pounds of arsenic

Current Air Quality Pittsburgh, PA
  • AIRNow - Air Quality Conditions Forecasts -
    Pittsburgh, PA
  • www.airnow.gov
  • www.epa.gov
  • www.eia.doe.gov

Water Pollution
  • Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) results from the
    formation of sulfuric acid in the oxidation of
    iron-sulfide minerals such as pyrite. Pyrite can
    be found in the coal seam, shale, and sandstone
    strata adjacent to coal beds. When coal is mined
    the Pyrite is exposed to oxygen and water and
    forms ferrous sulfate and sulfuric acid.

Acid Mine Damage
  • Water quality is severely degraded as a result of
  • AMD precipitates are toxic to aquatic plants,
    invertebrates, and fish. AMD causes depressed
    food supplies, gill clogging, general smothering,
    and toxicity from ingested metals.

Costs of AMD
  • The cost to clean up abandoned mine sites
    currently associated with AMD is upwards of 5
    billion dollars. To clean up all the abandoned
    mines in Pennsylvania the cost is upwards of 15
    billion dollars.
  • Pennsylvania currently receives 19 million
    dollars a year from the Federal Office of Surface
    Mining to correct abandoned mine problems.

Human Cost of Coal Mining
  • Not only environment is hurt by coal mining.
    There are large humans costs associated with
    mining as well.
  • July/August 2002- Somerset County, PA. Nine
    miners were trapped in a flooded mine shaft for
    77 hours.
  • Chances for mine collapse, flooding or explosion

Health Costs
  • Black Lung- condition caused by continued
    inhalation of coal dust. Coal dust inflames,
    scars, and discolors lungs, and leads to
    debilitating decline in lung function.
  • Coal particulates penetrate deep into the lungs.
    Prolonged inhalation causes a vast array of
    respiratory and cardiovascular problems i.e.
    emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and
    heart disease.
  • Coal particulates have also been linked to higher
    infant mortality rates.

Additional Health Costs
  • Sulfur dioxide exposure is associated with
    increased hospitalization and death from
    pulmonary and heart disease
  • The pollutants from coal mining/burning caused
    the coal smog that killed 2,200 people in
    London in 1880, the killer fog that caused 50
    deaths in Donora, PA in 1948, and the London
    fog that took 4,000 lives in 1952.

What is being done to lessen the impacts of
mining on PA?
  • As with many other environmental issues, more
    government regulation essential.
  • Public knowledge and awareness is another
    important aspect of fixing the mining problem.
  • Organizations such as the EPA are trying to
    increase public awareness about environmental
    issues and are also working for more government
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