McDonald’s Bags, Beer Cans, and Acid Mine Drainage

Driving down those dusty old back roads, what would you expect to see? Mcdonalds bags? Beer cans? Trash? Well here in Southeastern Ohio, we see all those things, along with some lovely (not) Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). The waters in and some places around Perry State Forest run a bright orange color as the result of mining that took place pre-1960. 

Before 1977, miners could come in and tear up the land, without taking any precautions simply because there was no law telling them they had to. When they were finished mining, that was it. They packed up and left. In 1977 the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act  (SMCRA) was passed that basically said companies had to take precautions to protect as much of the environment as they could and that they had to reclaim the land when they were finished mining. 

This photo was taken along the side of Number 8 Hollow Road in New Lexington. The runoff from the forest is running bright orange along the side of the road and has as long as I can remember. 

This is just a few feet from where the previous photo was taken. This shows a large pool of water standing along the road.

In the forest pictured beside the road, the water has stained the trees for up to 3 or 4 feet of their trunks from where the water has risen and fell over the years. 

Pictured above is Essington Lake located on NR 3 in New Lexington. As you can see lookonf all around the edges of the lake, they are orange. This is a big a beautiful lake that would be perfect for fishing and picnicking. Except the fact that there are no, and cannot be any, fish in this water body. The dissolved oxygen levels are so low due to the acid mine drainage (AMD), that fish cannot survive. 

This photo was taken standing on a culvert on the edge of Essington Lake. The water looks like orange Kool-Aid and the soil is stained to match. 

It’s sad to see such nice land be so polluted from people of the past. If you’re driving through any cities with a coal history, and you see the waters running orange or red, put up your middle finger and say, “Thanks miners pre 1977.”

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