Energy giant wins award for wetland creation

A Texas-based energy and telecommunications giant has been honoured for its programme of creating wetlands on reclaimed open-cast mining land.

The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), the organisation responsible for regulating surface mining for coal and uranium in the state, has presented its 2001 Texas reclamation award to TXU Mining’s ‘Team Wetland’ reclamation demonstration project, part of the multinational TXU Corporation. According to RRC, the team has developed an aggressive approach to reclamation strategies aimed, in particular, at restoring the wetlands at the Martin Lake Mine, in Panola County and the Oak Hill Mine, in Rusk County.

Team Wetland was formed in 1998 from a collection of regulatory, academic, and TXU Mining representatives with the theory that a single unified group can achieve an objective more effectively than multiple teams. The programme states its main objective as being to form a foundation for producing highly acclaimed wetlands, and lists further objectives, which include the delivery of innovative techniques for producing functional and aesthetically pleasing wetlands, to encourage education, and to maintain a team of professionals dedicated to carrying out the task.

One example of the team’s work is the Tatum wetland complex, within the Martin Lake Mine area, which now consists of a wide range of wetland types, some dominated by native wetland species, and others due to form wetland forested areas once trees have matured, with a system of interconnecting channels and drainage ditches. The project will be monitored by Team Wetland in order to determine seasonal effects on each part of the wetland and its associated waters.

According to RRC, the annual reclamation award was open to applications from all mining companies with permits in Texas, and that those applications received were evaluated on compliance, contemporaneous reclamation, drainage, post-mining land use, and use of innovative practices.

TXU’s environmental commitments also include the development of commercial markets for fly ash, bottom ash and sludge that result from burning lignite, with by-products being used for road resurfacing, synthetic gypsum wallboard, cement enhancement, and other construction products.

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