ABANDONED MINE PROBLEMS INCREASE - Companies Avoided Reclamation

The number of coal mine sites that have been abandoned by coal companies in need of urgent reclamation is on the rise.

Acknowledged sites needing reclamation are in the hundreds, but various environmental groups say they may run well over a thousand.

State regulators say they won't know how much federal money will be available this year to reclaim them.

The clean-up money comes from the Abandoned Mine Lands trust fund.

Ken Ellison, director of the Division of Land Restoration says the state needs at least $733 million dollars to do all the reclamation work needed on sites that are listed as top priorities. Those are sites where human health and safety are in danger.

Few companies have been held accountable when they pulled out of their strip mine operations.