Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Solar on Superfund Sites; Why Not On Surface-Mined Moonscapes?

The mountains of Eastern Kentucky present some of the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer - until you run smack into an abandoned surface mine.  Whether a bedrock parking lot smack up against a highwall or the amputation scar of mountaintop removal, these scenes of the coal-mining crime have defied "restoration" for decades.

Replaced soil won't stay in place on a slope; you can't build houses or anything else on solid bedrock; nothing but scrub plants will grow on a sliced-off mountaintop.

But now, finally, maybe hope.

A 43-acre solar farm is now generating power at a Superfund site in Indiana, making it the nation’s largest solar farm built on a Superfund site.

The Maywood Solar Farm, which is made up of 36,000 solar panels, started producing power last month. It’s one of 85 renewable energy projects that the EPA has helped install on Superfund sites, landfills and old mining sites in the U.S., projects which together produce 507 megawatts of power.

The solar farm is located on the site of a former coal tar refinery plant, which dealt with hazardous chemicals until its closing in 1972. In the 1980s officials found that the groundwater underneath the site was contaminated with benzene and ammonia, and afterwards the area was designated as a Superfund site.

“This innovative solar project demonstrates that Superfund sites can be redeveloped,” EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman said in a statement. “The Maywood Solar Farm project has transformed a site with a long history of contamination into a source of renewable energy.”  
Yeah, Kentucky has a few Superfund sites.  But what it mostly has is a shitload of abandoned surface mine and mountaintop removal sites glaring like fresh scars through the forest.

Cover 'm with solar panels.  No, it's not primeval forest. But it's a vast improvement over what's there now.

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