Asha Keshary and Nazia Al with notes by Dr. Ray Pierotti, University of Kansas
Slide 1: Black Mesa is located in the Desert and in a good year, the area gets at most between 7-12 inches of rain
Aquifers-which are underground layer yielding water for wells and springs. The Navajo-aquifer which depends upon rainwater to recharge it , feeds an array of natural springs, sacred water- clean and pure, sole source drinking water, life source for the spiritual and cultural survival of the people and all living things; depend on groundwater for livestock, agriculture, cleaning, and drinking
Slide 2: Black Mesa is also where the main villages of the Hopi people are located, in the north central part of Arizona, east of the Grand Canyon. You can see that the Peabody Coal mine operated by the Peabody coal company from Massachusetts in one the northern portion of Black Mesa
Slide 3: This is an image of Black Mesa, showing that it is a land or canyons and mesas. During the Permian period this was a swampy land. This is also near the area where the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert are located, so it is rich in fossils and many of these fossils have been changed into beds of coal
Slide 4: The two mines, Kayenta and Black Mesa, together make up on of the largest strip-mining operations in the US.
The coal from Black Mesa is burned in power plants to provides electricity for Southern California, Las Vegas, and Central Arizona
Slide 5: This image shows the Black Mesa pit and mining operation. It also shows how the local landscape is destroyed by the mining operations.
Slide 6: Even more of a problem than the mine itself, is that Peabody constructed a pipeline to carry the coal to power plants. Pristine groundwater is mixed with coal and sent through a pipeline 273 miles to MGS; since the 1970s, has pumped over 3600-4500 acre-feet per year of water from aquifer
This slurry pipeline was unique in how coal is transported in North America, where other transportation means for coal is by railway. And yet today Navajo and Hopi residents that live on Black Mesa still do not have electricity or running water.
Historically the Hopi have not been consulted regarding decision making for Black Mesa with regards to mining, royalties, and water use. The Navajo and Hopi governments alone have dealt and negotiate with federal agencies and corporations like Peabody. To address the ground water use and depletion of Coal company’s coal-slurry operations, there has been emergence of grassroots groups and organizations such as To Nizhoni Ani and Black Mesa Water Coalition which assumed the role to inform and build awareness within Navajo and Hopi communities to take the leadership in the protection of the Navajo Aquifer.
Slide 7: Since 1965-2004 Peabody has used more than 60% of the water in the Navajo Aquifer for industrial use. Approximately 267,240 acre-feet of Navajo Aquifer were used for Peabody’s industrial use from 1965-2004
Slide 8: Finally the Black Mesa mine shut down. The reasons for the shut down were that Navajo and Hopi tribes both passed resolutions to end Peabody’s use of the Navajo Aquifer by 2005. MGS did not have an alternative method of transporting coal from Black Mesa Mine to the MGS The MGS had faced a 6-year Clean Air Act Consent decree by environmental groups to install pollution control requirements by Jan. 1, 2006 or face closure
According to the EPA, the coal plant was the dirtiest in the Western U.S., emitting up to 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.
Slide 9: Peabody Coal can still reopen the mine any time they wish because they have a permit that allows them to take both coal and water until there is no coal left.
Slide 10: To continue operation the mining company began to take water from the Coconino-aquifer: another pipeline built above N-aquifer for transport of coal
The Navajo-aquifer remains as a possible back up so that it will always have access to a water source on Black Mesa
Slide 11: Sources for information