Today's guest blog is from Miguel Angel de la Cueva, a professional photographer with the International League of Conservation Photographers who has been documenting sites affected by abandoned mines.
13/08/2010 Today i arrived Ashley to visit the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and it’s Executive Director Robert Hughes, we visited 4 sites (Newport Township, Nanticoke, Old Forge and Wilkes-Barre) affected by abandoned mines and suffering from acid mine damage/drainage, local media came along and did coverage also, i never spected to find such a polluted environment, almost two days after my clothes are stained with a intense orange color and the strong smell of sulphur remains.
(above) Newport Lake-”Loch Mess”-an abandoned water-filled anthracite strip mining pit 20 acres in size, 40′ deep down the center of the pit floor, nearly 200′ feet across, 4/10s of a mile long down valley; The pit is flooded with abandoned mine drainage that enters the pit in several fractured areas along one side of the highwall to the camera right, looking down valley (north) of where we were shooting. The abandoned mine water has an alkaline pH of 6.2, very low acidity levels, and iron hydroxide levels that exceed 40 parts per million (40 mg/L). The orange-ish, red color exhibited in the pit and along the highwall’s edge is precipitated iron oxide that has dropped our of solution and deposited naturally on the rocks around the site and at the base of the natural vegetation that has grown around the water’s edge. Introduced the concept of native wetlands native vegetation or phytoremediation to treat the polluted abandoned mine drainage (AMD) utilizing plants such as cattails (typha latifolia), that have extensive, far reaching and dense rhizome root systems at the base of their stalks to filter out the iron oxide as it passes through the plants underwater roots.
(above) The Old Forge AMD Borehole (above) -This is a 50-80 million gallons per day discharge directly into the Lackawanna River, a major tributary to the Susquehanna River that mainly flows from Susquehanna County in the Forest City area at the very northern tip of the Anthracite Coal fields through Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, mainly through the City of Scranton and Old Forge, with several smaller coal town communities in between the Lackawanna Valley.