Not Having a Blast in Appalachia

How to explore a mountaintop removal site and survive

| January-February 2010

  • Having a blast

    image by Mark Todd /

  • Having a blast

Dear Ned,

Like almost everyone else here in Appalachia, I live near a big ole mountaintop removal site. And I’ve got reasons to suspect that the coal companies might be violating a lot of worker safety regulations or environmental permits. I was wondering what you know about getting in close to take a peek at what’s going on?



Well, Samwise, I remember back in 1811 when us stockingers used to take pride in our work. And heck, were we ever mad when we found out people were using newfangled mechanized knitting frames to make really crappy versions of the stockings we made so carefully. And if I were a mineworker today, I’d feel the same.

From what I hear, companies have laid off almost everybody and replaced ’em with explosives. And even still, lots of miners are hurt and killed every year. So my hat is off to you, wanting to make sure these sites are following proper precautions. I happen to have a pamphlet called “Exploring Surface Mines” sitting in front of me. Let me give you a couple of highlights.