That's how stories end in Coal River Valley, said Vanity Fair's Shnayerson, "with a whimper, followed by a bang from blasting," destroying mountains, communities, ecosystems and people in combination. Judy Bonds called it "stealing our soul."
Mountaintop Removal - How It's Done
Mountain Justice calls it "mountain range removal/valley fill mining," a process that "annihilates ecosystems, transforming some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world into biologically barren moonscapes." Its steps include:
(1) Clear-cutting forests, including scraping away topsoil, lumber, herbs, and other life forms, denuding the landscape. In the process, wildlife habitat and vegetation are destroyed, leaving areas vulnerable to floods and landslides.
(2) Up to 800 feet of mountaintops are blasted, causing immediate damage to home foundations, structures and wells. Moreover, unleashed "fly rock" boulders endanger lives and property.
(3) Huge shovels rip into soil, loading coal onto trucks to haul away or push into adjacent valleys.
(4) Giant dragline machines dig into rock, exposing coal deposits.
(5) Other machines scoop it out, dumping millions of "overburden" tons (former mountaintops) into valleys below, creating valley fills. As a result, coal giants "forever buried over 1,200 miles of biologically crucial Appalachian headwater streams."