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Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Lusk B.T.,University of Kentucky | Castro J.S.,University of Kentucky | Hoffman J.M.,University of Kentucky | Eltschlager K.,Office of Surface Mining
Journal of Explosives Engineering | Year: 2011

This case study focuses on analysis of sounds inside a house induced by blasts as result of surface mining coal in West Virginia and how to better communicate technical information to the public.The field study included a house wide vibration and sound monitoring system installed in a home which was subjected to blasts at varied distances and direction. The structure response was separated into ground vibration and airblast induced movement due to the differences in their times of arrival.This signal was then compared to the sounds recorded to determine which component of blast (ground vibration or airblast) induced the maximum sound. Findings shows that blasts at distances less than 762 meters (2,500 feet) had maximum sound responses from both ground vibration and airblast. While for blasts beyond this distance the maximum sound response was caused by ground vibration without exception. The kitchen generally created the most sound. The second phase of the study was to gauge the public's response or preference to technical information. Three hundred and forty eight (348) telephone surveys were conducted in Logan and Boone counties West Virginia. Based on the survey, the public prefers units of pounds per square inch (psi) for airblast and millimeters of displacement for ground vibration. Ultimately a public relations plan was developed based on the results. Source

Miller C.R.,Office of Surface Mining | Franklin J.A.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville | Buckley D.S.,University of Tennessee at Knoxville
28th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation 2011 | Year: 2011

Successful reforestation on mine sites requires the use of species adapted to harsh soil and site conditions. Research has shown that American chestnut (Castanea dentata) may be a suitable species due to its historical presence on xeric, nutrient limited sites, which are characteristic of many surface mines. Here we compare seedling survival and performance, through various physiological parameters, of American chestnut planted on two sites in eastern Tennessee. A seedling with high performance is identified as having greater height, greater apical elongation, greater root collar diameter, greater photosynthetic rate, and lower water stress than poorly performing seedlings. Understanding how this species responds to surface mine planting treatments will aid reforestation experts in achieving reforestation and simultaneously restoring American chestnut. This study was carried out on a mine site reclaimed using the Forestry Reclamation Approach. Two sites, containing two plots each, had similar substrates, but differed in topography and material placement. Nine treatments were applied contemporaneously during planting in a factorial arrangement: forest topsoil (sterilized and un-sterilized), Terra-Sorb (applied and not applied), and fertilizer pellets (applied and not applied). Chestnuts were direct- seeded in rows with randomly assigned treatments. The first and second year survival rates of 29 and 28% were unacceptably low for successful reforestation. Fertilizer application reduced survival, but increased both natural height and root collar diameter over the first year in surviving seedlings. Further, fertilizer increased the rate of transpiration, and resulted in a more negative water potential. Terra-Sorb reduced survival, but increased natural height and root collar diameter, most likely as a result of a lesser degree of water stress. Lastly, the inclusion of sterile soil reduced survival, but increased photosynthetic rate. Source

Skousen J.,West Virginia University | Zipper C.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Burger J.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Angel P.,Office of Surface Mining | Barton C.,University of Kentucky
28th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation 2011 | Year: 2011

The Forestry Reclamation Approach is a five-step system for reclaiming mined lands to forests. Step 1 of the FRA involves creating a suitable rooting medium for good tree growth using topsoil, weathered sandstone and/or the best available material. Several types of overburden types can be selected to place on the surface as growth media. These spoil types include weathered brown sandstone and unweathered rock materials including sandstones, siltstones, shales, and mixtures of these materials. When sufficient topsoil is not salvageable, reclamation scientists often recommend that, when available, weathered sandstone should be considered as the "best available" topsoil substitute material. Here, we review the scientific evidence that supports such recommendations. Several studies have shown that tree survival was not significantly different among spoil types. Weathered brown sandstone, unweathered gray sandstone, siltstone and shale materials all produced good tree survival (>70%) when compaction and competitive ground covers were reduced. However, growth for most trees (as measured by height, diameter, and volume) was usually significantly greater in weathered brown materials than in unweathered sandstones, siltstones, shales, and mixed spoils. At one site in West Virginia five years after planting, a 10-fold difference in tree volume was found between these two spoil types. Similar results have been found with other studies across Appalachian surface mines. Based on the results of studies summarized herein, the use of weathered brown sandstone is generally recommended, along with topsoil materials when available, to be placed on the surface on sites where hardwood tree species are being planted for forestry post-mining land uses. Weathered brown sandstone spoil materials have a pH, soluble salt content, fine earth content well suited for trees, and sufficient nutrient supplying and water holding capacity that results in superior tree growth compared to other spoil types. The brown sandstone material more closely resembles the native forest soil than the unweathered gray materials. Source

Pond G.J.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Passmore M.E.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Pointon N.D.,Three Parkway Center | Felbinger J.K.,Three Parkway Center | And 4 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2014

Recent studies have documented adverse effects to biological communities downstream of mountaintop coal mining and valley fills (VF), but few data exist on the longevity of these impacts. We sampled 15 headwater streams with VFs reclaimed 11–33 years prior to 2011 and sampled seven local reference sites that had no VFs. We collected chemical, habitat, and benthic macroinvertebrate data in April 2011; additional chemical samples were collected in September 2011. To assess ecological condition, we compared VF and reference abiotic and biotic data using: (1) ordination to detect multivariate differences, (2) benthic indices (a multimetric index and an observed/expected predictive model) calibrated to state reference conditions to detect impairment, and (3) correlation and regression analysis to detect relationships between biotic and abiotic data. Although VF sites had good instream habitat, nearly 90 % of these streams exhibited biological impairment. VF sites with higher index scores were co-located near unaffected tributaries; we suggest that these tributaries were sources of sensitive taxa as drifting colonists. There were clear losses of expected taxa across most VF sites and two functional feeding groups (% scrapers and %shredders) were significantly altered. Percent VF and forested area were related to biological quality but varied more than individual ions and specific conductance. Within the subset of VF sites, other descriptors (e.g., VF age, site distance from VF, the presence of impoundments, % forest) had no detectable relationships with biological condition. Although these VFs were constructed pursuant to permits and regulatory programs that have as their stated goals that (1) mined land be reclaimed and restored to its original use or a use of higher value, and (2) mining does not cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards, we found sustained ecological damage in headwaters streams draining VFs long after reclamation was completed. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA). Source

Chugh Y.P.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Behum P.T.,Office of Surface Mining
International Journal of Coal Science and Technology | Year: 2014

This paper provides an overview of coal waste management practices with two case studies and an estimate of management cost in 2010 US dollars. Processing of as-mined coal typically results in considerable amount of coarse and fine coal processing wastes because of in-seam and out-of-seam dilution mining. Processing plant clean coal recovery values run typically 50 %–80 %. Trace metals and sulfur may be present in waste materials that may result in leachate water with corrosive characteristics. Water discharges may require special measures such as liner and collection systems, and treatment to neutralize acid drainage and/or water quality for trace elements. The potential for variations in coal waste production and quality depends upon mining or processing, plus the long-term methods of waste placement. The changes in waste generation rates and engineering properties of the coal waste during the life of the facility must be considered. Safe, economical and environmentally acceptable management of coal waste involves consideration of geology, soil and rock mechanics, hydrology, hydraulics, geochemistry, soil science, agronomy and environmental sciences. These support all aspects of the regulatory environment including the design and construction of earth and rock embankments and dams, as well as a wide variety of waste disposal structures. Development of impoundments is critical and require considerations of typical water-impounding dams and additional requirements of coal waste disposal impoundments. The primary purpose of a coal waste disposal facility is to dispose of unusable waste materials from mining. However, at some sites coal waste impoundments serve to provide water storage capacity for processing and flood attenuation. © 2014, The Author(s). Source

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