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Monday, June 25, 2012

Plains settling pond

Since it came up in the comment section of a recent post, the environmental problem tabbed Abandoned Mine Drainage or Acid Mine Drainage is not specific to the Lackawanna River.

This Google Earth overview of a settling pond located directly across the Susquehanna River from the Forty Fort Cemetery proves that it is still an ongoing concern right here in the Wyoming Valley.

These settling ponds, some of which are now commercially viable, are constructed so that the sulfuric iron oxide escaping from the shuttered coal mines can settle to the bottom of the pond, rather than leaching into our waterways. And as you can see below, this particular settling pond is not stopping the exodus of iron into the river. I've seen it close up. Actually, I"ve paddled right through it.

In addition to the orangey staining of bridges and shoreline stones, acid mine drainage, unless filtered by alkalines, is toxic to aquatic life.

I think most of us living here in Happy Culm Valley believe that the absolute worst the coal mining era has left us are a few piles of culm, battered breaker remains and the stories of the numerous underground disasters. But as this Google satellite photo clearly illustrates, there's still a lot more going on than meets the eye.

And please be mindful of the fact that this iron sludge in it's many forms can and does find it's way into the water acquifers more often than not. The anthracite industry in the Wyoming Valley came to a complete halt when the Knox Mine flooded in 1959. But the environmental degredation continues to this very day. And in this case---just out of sight and out of mind.



Aggie95 said...

I have wondered about that ....the red stain seems to drop off a bit below Pittston and then seemed to become a bit more pronounced lower down ....I knew about that pond but never made the conection ...it just never clicked

zorcong said...

It's spewing out of the river's edge all over the place at Port Blanchard.

And that pontoon-based emergency coffer dam system at Pittston posted just a few feet south of the infamous Butler Mine Tunnel has been battered beyond belief by the '11 flooding.

At this point, it looks as if it's inoperable.

But don't sweat it, the Govmint is busily protecting the environment.