- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Federal officials plan to recommend the National Academy of Sciences review a series of studies that have found residents living near mountaintop removal mining operations face increased risks of serious illnesses and premature death.

The Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Qe2YgW ) reports that Office of Surface Mining Director Joseph Pizarchik said on Friday that his agency would ask the academy to help West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection officials examine the studies.

Former West Virginia University researcher Michael Hendryx and other scientists have published more than two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles in recent years that say residents living near mountaintop removal mines face a greater risk of cancer, birth defects and premature death.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman says the reports needed a closer examination by health experts and strip-mine regulators.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com

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