Cosam Mullins mined coal in the western hills of Virginia for much of his working life. Now, with mining jobs hard to find, he's cleaning up the mess the industry left behind.

The 68-year-old operates a bucket loader scraping away red, rocky waste dumped years ago by failed coal mine operators in a valley in the town of Clinchco, Virginia.

The $17.50 an hour before overtime he makes cleaning up massive "gob piles," as the locals call them, is less than what he earned in decades as a miner. But it's a paycheck.