The Spruce No. 1 mine is perhaps most famous for being the first and only mine in history to have its US Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit vetoed by the US Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the Clean Water Act. If constructed, it would be the largest mountaintop removal mine in Appalachia, spanning 3,113 acres and creating six valley fills that would permanently fill six miles of streams, and directly impact more than ten miles of streams.The EPA’s landmark decision was hailed by environmentalists as a great victory, and as a signal that the EPA would use it’s authority under the Clean Water Act to end the illegal practice of burying streams under hundreds of feet of mining spoils. Yet since 2007, the Spruce No. 1 mine has produced 1.58 million tons of coal and employed an annual average of 24 miners, and to those who live below the mine it seems as if Arch Coal is acting like the permit was never vetoed at all.
On Sunday, February 20th, Climate Ground Zero’s investigative team went to the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia to do a citizens’ site inspection. Here is what we saw.
All Photographs (c) Antrim Caskey, 2011