Environmental Management

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 660–670 | Cite as

Sustainable Remediation of Legacy Mine Drainage: A Case Study of the Flight 93 National Memorial

  • Lisa A. EmiliEmail author
  • Joseph Pizarchik
  • Carolyn G. Mahan


Pollution from mining activities is a global environmental concern, not limited to areas of current resource extraction, but including a broader geographic area of historic (legacy) and abandoned mines. The pollution of surface waters from acid mine drainage is a persistent problem and requires a holistic and sustainable approach to addressing the spatial and temporal complexity of mining-specific problems. In this paper, we focus on the environmental, socio-economic, and legal challenges associated with the concurrent activities to remediate a coal mine site and to develop a national memorial following a catastrophic event. We provide a conceptual construct of a socio-ecological system defined at several spatial, temporal, and organizational scales and a critical synthesis of the technical and social learning processes necessary to achieving sustainable environmental remediation. Our case study is an example of a multi-disciplinary management approach, whereby collaborative interaction of stakeholders, the emergence of functional linkages for information exchange, and mediation led to scientifically informed decision making, creative management solutions, and ultimately environmental policy change.


Coal mine reclamation Water resources Mine drainage Socio-ecological system Sustainable development 



This paper would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of many people and agencies. We thank Patrick White (Families of Flight 93) for his assistance with constructing the timeline and his explanations of the legal processes associated with the land purchase, Martin Sokolow (DEP) for providing and explaining the Consent Agreements, Donna Glassner (Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial) for providing us access to archived materials, Jay Winter (California District Mining Office) for providing geologic reports and maps, Randall Musser (Musser Engineering) and Beth Kern (PBS Coals, Inc.) for their assistance with digital copies of coal mining permit maps, Timothy Dolney (Penn State Altoona) for his assistance with GIS and figure creation, and William White (Penn State Altoona) for his assistance in the editing of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa A. Emili
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joseph Pizarchik
    • 2
  • Carolyn G. Mahan
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Mathematics and Natural SciencesPenn State AltoonaAltoonaUSA
  2. 2.Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and EnforcementUnited States Department of the InteriorWashington DCUSA

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