[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 103 (Friday, May 27, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Page 30938]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-13270]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-9312-2]


The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic 
Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian Coalfield andA Field-Based 
Aquatic Life Benchmark for Conductivity in Central Appalachian Streams; 
Release of Final Reports

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: EPA publically released on April 13, 2011, two final 
scientific reports assessing the environmental and water quality 
effects of mountaintop coal mining on Appalachian streams. Both 
reports, prepared by EPA scientists in the Agency's Office of Research 
and Development, were strongly endorsed by EPA's Science Advisory Board 
following an extensive independent peer review. The reports provide 
valuable scientific information for use by Federal and state agencies 
responsible for the review of surface coal mining operations under the 
Clean Water Act. The two reports, entitled The Effects of Mountaintop 
Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems of the Central Appalachian 
Coalfields (EPA/600/R-09/138F) and A Field-based Aquatic Life Benchmark 
for Conductivity in Central Appalachian Streams (EPA/600/R-10/023F) are 
available via the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

DATES: These two reports were posted publically on April 13, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Both reports are available primarily via the Internet on the 
National Center for Environmental Assessment's home page under the 
Recent Additions and Publications menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. A 
limited number of paper copies are available from the Information 
Management Team, NCEA; telephone: 703-347-8561; facsimile: 703-347-
8691. If you are requesting a paper copy, please provide your name, 
your mailing address, and the document title.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information, contact 
the National Center for Environmental Assessment; Michael Slimak; 
telephone: 703-347-8524; or e-mail: slimak.michael@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Key Conclusions

The Effects of Mountaintop Mines and Valley Fills on Aquatic Ecosystems 
of the Central Appalachian Coalfields

     Springs, and ephemeral, intermittent, and small perennial 
headwater streams are permanently lost with the removal of the mountain 
and from burial under mining waste;
     Concentrations of major chemical ions (a measure of 
salinity) are persistently elevated downstream of mining operations;
     Degraded water quality reaches levels that are acutely 
lethal to standard laboratory test organisms;
     Selenium concentrations are elevated, reaching 
concentrations that have caused toxic effects in fish and birds; and
     Aquatic communities downstream of mining operations are 
consistently degraded.

A Field-Based Aquatic Life Benchmark for Conductivity in Central 
Appalachian Streams

     Consistent with longstanding EPA methods and using site 
specific stream data in West Virginia and Kentucky, EPA determined that 
conductivity (dissolved salts) levels below 300 [micro]S/cm are 
generally associated with healthy aquatic communities; and
     The Report demonstrates that elevated conductivity (a 
measure of salinity) is the factor most directly responsible for the 
loss of stream life in Appalachian streams.
    Comments were solicited on the drafts of both reports beginning in 
April 2010. Those comments received were provided to an expert peer 
review panel of the Science Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB panel held a 
public meeting to review the draft reports from July 20-22, 2010. The 
SAB's peer review reports were transmitted to the EPA Administrator on 
March 25, 2011, and are available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/WebReportsLastMonthBOARD/ACD3A1AF5C7138E785257625006C891E?OpenDocument&TableRow=2.3#2, for the 
MTM-VF Effects Assessment; and http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/WebReportsLastMonthBOARD/984D6747508D92AD852576B700630F32?OpenDocument&TableRow=2.3, for the 
Conductivity Report.

    Dated: May 19, 2011.
Darrell A. Winner,
Acting Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment.
[FR Doc. 2011-13270 Filed 5-26-11; 8:45 am]
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