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Are Flooded Mines Polluting Water?

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A long-awaited environmental impact report concludes that concentrations of iron and sulfate collecting in underground pools could pollute the Potomac River and its surrounding groundwater.

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement released two mine-pool reports Wednesday examining water systems underlying parts of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

One report assessed the Fairmont Mine Pool, which includes flooded mines underneath the Monongahela River.

The other report assessed the North Branch of the Potomac River Mine Pool. That pool underlies the Potomac River Watershed, a tributary to the Potomac River. The Potomac, which drains into the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the largest rivers in the United States.

The reports say both mine pools are stable, but the Potomac pool could contaminate surrounding waters if it's not carefully monitored.


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