(12/19/2007)
By Bob Weaver

West Virginia is getting $39 million dollars from the federal government to clean up some more abandoned mine sites.

It is estimated that in over 100 years of coal production, thousands of mines were abandoned in West Virginia, the practice more rampant during the 1950s through the 1970s.

The funding is part of $274 million dollars released for cleanup projects nationwide.

West Virginia officials and environmentalist have pushed for more federal funding for the past decade, citing concerns over erosion, water pollution and safety.

In 1977, President Carter signed the "Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act" to regulate surface mine sites and provide for the reclamation of mined lands.

Thirty years later, West Virginia is still plagued by bulldozers, blasting, destruction, and abandonment.

The coal companies say they are returning the land to better-than-before conditions and creating flat land for economic development.

Very few mountaintop removal sites in WV have actually been reclaimed. Plant life is replaced with non-native vegetation. The top soil is mostly gone and plants struggle to take hold on a thin layer of dirt.

Hundreds of miles of WV streams are filled with refuse from mountaintop removal, and hundreds more are no longer able to produce viable life.


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