"That is what causes these flash floods."
Two former mining regulators want an investigation into just how badly strip mining impacted the recent, deadly Eastern Kentucky floods.
On Monday, KY newspaper Courier Journal reported that both Jack Spadaro, a former top federal mine-safety engineer and lawyer, as well as Davie Randsell, a retired state mining regulator, say invasive mining practices worsened last month's flood, which has killed nearly 40 people and displaced almost 500 more. Two people are still missing, according to local outlet WLKY.
"If you get an area that has been strip mined, and the soil has been stripped off, and the upper layers of the soil and rock have been dumped into a valley fill, you have a surface that is not fully vegetated and you get no water retention whatsoever, and that is what causes these flash floods," Spadaro told the Courier Journal.
Randsell said logging, gas wells and even power lines can also contribute to landslides during rainstorms, and both want state and federal authorities to pinpoint exactly how much of an environment impact these practices have had.
Aged Appalachian infrastructure and coal companies' unwillingness to repair the land they've used is nothing new.
Drinking water in nearby West Virginia is so polluted with coal runoff that it's brown and irritates the skin, and neighboring Tennessee just found out via federal investigation that an industrial lawn mower caused the state's second-largest oil spill.
Without accountability for fossil fuel companies, more residents will suffer — so let's hope that investigation happens soon.
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