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Hazardous Mine Lands – Contrasts Between States

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In the previous post, I reported that the amount of abandoned mine land in Missouri awaiting reclamation increased between February, 2013 and April 2014, despite Missouri’s ongoing Land Reclamation Program. The federal database of abandoned mine land (e-AMLIS) prioritizes the lands according to how imminent a threat they represent to people, land, water, and property. Priorities 1 and 2 are the ones that represent the greatest threat to safety.

As of April 2014, Missouri was shown as having 127,151 Priority 1 & 2 units, and that reclamation had been completed on 91,615 of them, leaving 35,537 awaiting reclamation. Total Priority 1 & 2 reclamation costs were estimated at $59.4 million, of which $45.0 million had been completed, and $14.4 million had not.

Priority Costs ChartPriority Units ChartThe first chart at right shows the number of total Priority 1 & 2 units, and the number of uncompleted Priority 1 & 2 units in Missouri and several surrounding states. The second chart shows the estimated costs to reclaim them. Compared to these other states, Missouri has fewer total units, has made better progress reclaiming them, and has fewer future costs to endure.

(Click on chart for larger view.)

For comparison sake, I searched the database to find the state with the highest number of Priority 1 & 2 units, and the highest estimated costs to reclaim them. It turned out to be Pennsylvania. Where Missouri has 35,537 uncompleted units, Pennsylvania has 2,172,728, or 61 times as many. Where Missouri faces $14.4 million in future costs to reclaim these lands, Pennsylvania faces $5.2 billion, with a “B.” That is 362 times Missouri’s estimated cost.

Difference ChartFinally, I have data that allows me to compare the number of uncompleted Priority 1 & 2 units between February 2013 and April 2014 for Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, and Iowa. The third chart at right shows the results. Missouri, Arkansas, and Iowa all reduced the number of units, Iowa by a very substantial fraction. Thus, the increase in Missouri’s unreclaimed mine land appears to have involved lower priority sites, not high priority ones.

The number of units increased a little in Illinois, and they increased by over 54,000% in Kansas. Oh, my! A review of the data revealed that this startling increase was not an error by your humble reporter. Rather, Kansas did not report any dangerous highwall in 2013, but they reported a great deal of it in 2014. Highwall is reported by the linear foot in e-AMLIS. Kansas reported astonishingly little Priority 1 & 2 land in 2013 compared to its neighbors, and more than half of the 2014 highwall has already been reclaimed, so I suspect that the difference represents a change in reporting or a reporting error, not the discovery of new abandoned mine land.

In my next post, I will report on some other interesting items in the most recent reports on abandoned mine lands.

Sources:

Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 2013. 2010-2011 Land Reclamation Program Biennial Report. Publication 2473. MODNR Home Page » Publications » 2010 and 2011 Biennial Report. http://dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2473.pdf

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (e-AMLIS). OSMRE Home Page » Programs »e-AMLIS. http://www.osmre.gov/programs/amlis.shtm.

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