Evaluation of Mine Seals Constructed in 1967 at Elkins, Randolph County, WV
Description:In 1980, the Bureau of Mines surveyed a group of mine seals in Randolph County, WV, to evaluate their effectiveness for reducing toxic pollutants in mine water discharges. The survey focused on 11 block wet mine seals, but mine seals of several other types were also examined. The seals were installed in 1966 and 1967 in abandoned drift portals by the Federal Water Quality Administration (FWQA), a predecessor of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the Bureau of Mines and other Federal and State agencies, in a project known as Elkins Mine Drainage Pollution Control Demonstration Project. The seals were designed to prevent air from entering the mine portals while allowing mine water to flow out. It was believed that by preventing air from entering inactive or abandoned mines, the formation of toxic pollutants and acid mine drainage (AMD) could be reduced. Evaluation of the seals was based on water flow measurements, water analyses, and visual observations. The Bureau's 1980 data were compared with past data collected by the EPA. Several leaks and failures were observed in the clay seals, as evidenced by apparent blowouts and the absence of vegetation where the mine water surfaced. Analyses of the 1980 data indicated some improvement in the quality of water discharged from many of the wet air seals.
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