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Minefill Practices for Power Plant Waste: An Initial Review and Assessment of the Pennsylvania System

May 1, 2003

There are high-volume materials associated in some areas with coal mining and reclamation that can cause severe environmental impacts. Improperly managed and controlled, they are a source of toxic levels of pH, strong mineralization of contact water and elevated concentrations of major, minor and /or trace metals, anionic species and/or other contaminants. The discharges from these materials can impair and even eradicate biota in affected streams and render groundwater undrinkable and unusable. The effects of drainage from these materials can last for years or decades.

However, there may be some settings where specific power plant wastes can be appropriately used to assist in remediation or reclamation of abandoned mined lands that are an existing environmental problem. And, power plant wastes may sometimes be beneficially used for fill as part of abandoned mined lands reclamation, so long as comparable management and isolation from the environment is provided for the mine setting as for any other disposal setting.