Coal refuse is a legacy of previous coal mining and consists of low-quality coal mixed with rock, shale, slate, clay and other material. Also known as waste, culm, gob and boney, it was discarded as a “waste” during the original coal extraction process and randomly disposed in piles near the mine sites. These piles, which can spontaneously combust or catch fire from lightning strikes and which also leach acid mine water and hazardous substances, are major sources of land, air and water pollution and represent public health and safety hazards.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there are 840 such piles overlying nearly 10,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and scattered throughout the Commonwealth’s anthracite and bituminous coalfields. However, this inventory is acknowledged to be non-comprehensive.
For further details, click here to read ARIPPA's Coal Refuse Whitepaper.