Skip to main content

coal slurry spill in Inez, Ky. 2003
The coal slurry spill in West Virginia Tuesday morning wasn't nearly as bad as this one in Inez,
Kentucky, 11 years ago, but the risk is always there, especially when regulators don't regulate.
Officials of the state's Department of Environmental Protection don't yet know how much coal slurry has leaked from a facility in Kanawha County, West Virginia. But a DEP spokesman characterized it as "significant."

It has already blackened Fields Creek not far from where it empties into the Kanawha River. State officials and those at West Virginia American Water say the spill is no threat to drinking water supplies. Indeed, Jimmy Gianato, the director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the state's Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said: "I don't think there's really anything to it. It turned out to be much of nothing."

That doesn't quite seem to mesh with "significant," but if true, it would be good news after more than a month of worries caused by the 10,000-gallon spill of a chemical mixture—Crude MCHM—from Freedom Industries on the Elk River. That spill did taint drinking water. One elementary school, according to the Charleston Gazette, detected low levels of MCHM in water from a drinking fountain Tuesday morning. Authorities say they will flush it out after school.

Coal slurry can contain far more toxins than just Crude MCHM.

The incident occurred at the Kanawha Eagle operation, which includes a coal preparation plant and a coal slurry impoundment.

Dale Petry, director of emergency services for Kanawha County, said that an eight-inch slurry line between the preparation plant and the company's refuse impoundment ruptured, sending an underdetermined amount of coal waste into the creek before the flow was stopped.

At the Gazette, Ken Ward Jr. noted that in 2009, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement told the DEP in an official report that the state agency was failing to take effective enforcement action to reduce so-called  "blackwater spills" in West Virginia's mining operations. DEP's response? It rejected the OSM's recommendations that it re-examine its rules and policies on such spills, claiming such events were dwindling.

That doesn't seem to be an unusual response from West Virginia officialdumb. In a 169-page report after an explosion killed three at a chemical plant in 2008, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board made a series of recommendations to prevent future chemical accidents. The state ignored them. And when the CSB repeated some of those recommendations after a worker was killed in a chemical accident in 2011, it was ignored again.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site