This week in Special Projects, we concluded our module on Mountaintop Removal (MTR) mining sites. We took a deep look at the data by processing Raster images of the Appalachian Coal Mining Region. To do this, we were split into several groups so that we could analyze Landsat images that would reveal MTR sites in this region. I was a member of Group 3 and I analyzed Landsat image LT50190342010243EDC00. Specifically, I processed this image using ERDAS Imagine to re-classify areas that were MTR or Non-MTR and I used the Multipart to Singlepart tool to create several more polygons for analysis. After classifying the MTR sites using ERDAS Imagine, I conducted an accuracy check by generating 30 random points and comparing those points to a 2010 aerial image of the same region. My accuracy check yielded 28 out of 30 points that were True or correct which gave me a 93% accuracy. My results were a slight decrease in the total acreage of MTR mining sites. Though this is possible due to restoration, the decrease in amount of MTR acres does not provide remediation for the source of drinking water for the families who live in this region. There is a correlation between MTR mining and poor health, fish kill, lower bird hatchings, and poor water quality.
There are six stages to MTR mining: Clearing, Blasting, Digging, Dumping Waste, Processing, and Reclamation. During the blasting phase it is not unusual to cause violent shaking to families homes located miles away from the MTR site, nor is it unusual to find coal dust coated on the their homes. In my opinion, it is time to end MTR mining. As a nation, we have many other forms of energy available to us and we should make use of these alternate energy sources. The Coal Mining region located in the Appalachian Mountains would benefit immensely if we converted from MTR mining to wind, solar or other methods for producing electricity. Changing from MTR mining to solar energy, would be another great way to create jobs and provide America a lasting and renewable energy source.
Please see my Map Journal - MTR Mining: Streams and Basins