Canadian Consulting Engineer

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Let’s go fishing … in the coal mine

Most environmentalists shudder at the thought of coal, never mind the toxic messes left behind when the coal mine's...


Most environmentalists shudder at the thought of coal, never mind the toxic messes left behind when the coal mine’s life is ended.
However, a report by New York’s Worldwatch Institute has turned up an unlikely benefit from these facilities: food.
The Worldwatch Institute report entitled “U.S. Fish Farms Tap Former Coal Mines for Water,” by Ben Block explains that fish farmers in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia are using water from the abandoned coal mines to raise trout, catfish and salmon.
Sometimes the water in the mines is clean enough without treatment. But in others the coal companies have been required toadd treatment plants to the mines, and these are effective at turning the water crystal clear.
Either the healthy water is carried by pipes to the fish farms, or the treatment plants themselves are adapted to accommodate aquaculture operations. Streams near to the mines are also being used to raise fish for recreation purposes.
According to the Worldwatch article of September 16, a West Virginia University aquaculture researcher who is promoting the mine water operations says: “By channelling water from the mines or adapting treatment facilities into farms, some dozen potential mine sites could supply water for large-scale fish farming — enough for about 45 tons of fish per year.”