Watershed Group Tells History of Richard Mine in Exhibit in Morgantown, WV

The State Journal
5 February 2015
By Cynthia McCloud

An exhibit of photos, maps, artifacts and other information telling the story of the Richard Mine is on display from now until mid-March at the Morgantown History Museum.

The museum is located at 175 Kirk St. in Morgantown. Its hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

Friends of Deckers Creek, a nonprofit watershed group in Morgantown, developed the exhibit in collaboration with the museum.

FODC Executive Director Suzanne Moore said the goal is to tell the community about the history of the mine, which is the single largest source of pollution in the watershed.

“West Virginia does have a proud history of coal mining and we wanted to acknowledge that,” Moore said. “But also it comes with a price as well: some of these abandoned mines that are left untreated that are polluting the waterways.”

The pollution is acid mine drainage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, AMD is metal-rich water created when pyrite, an iron sulfide, is exposed and reacts with air and water to form sulfuric acid and dissolved iron. Run-off may also contain aluminum, copper, lead or mercury as the acid breaks down heavy metals.

Moore said the Richard area, which is on West Virginia Route 7 in eastern Monongalia County has changed a lot. It would be difficult for a passerby to recognize the point where the Richard Mine discharges AMD into Deckers Creek.

“It's the most concentrated source of pollution and it pollutes the last 3.5 miles that run from basically Richard down to the mouth of the Monongahela River,” Moore said.

She said FODC has been working toward solving the pollution issue caused by the mine. Because the pollution is so concentrated, the remediation plan will have to include some sort of large-scale AMD treatment method.

But the focus of the exhibit is highlighting the mine's historical attributes more than its environmental legacies.

“We had some community members loan us some artifacts,” Moore said. “People who had family that worked in mine gave us examples of timesheets and charts. There is the original union sign that was on display at the mine.”

The Richard Mine Exhibit is funded by a mini-grant from the West Virginia