Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Coal material spills from pond

The Associated Press

SIDNEY, Ky. - An overflow at a mine pond in Pike County has sent about 20,000 gallons of a "gooey" coal material into a tributary of the Tug Fork River.

Sidney Coal reported the release from its pond into Big Creek on Saturday, said Joseph Schmidt, a member of the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection's environmental response team.

Schmidt said the release occurred when a pond overflowed. The company said the spill was from a Sidney Coal impoundment that contained coal slurry, a mixture of fine coal particles and water.

The spill occurred about 14 miles from Big Creek's confluence with the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River, said Jessica Greathouse, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

"It's a pretty concentrated sludge. It's kind of gooey," Greathouse said Monday.

Mark York, spokesman for the Kentucky the Kentucky Cabinet for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said the company is using vacuum trucks to suck the material out of Big Creek.

York said no slurry had been detected Monday evening in the Tug Fork around Kermit, W.Va., where officials were concerned about contamination. He said the 5,000 to 10,000 gallons that reached the Tug Fork has dissipated.

Jeff Gillenwater, spokesman for Sidney Coal and its parent company Massey Energy, said the slurry spilled through a pipe into the stream. He said the company was dumping material to raise the height of the impoundment embankment. The material displaced the slurry, causing it flow out.

"The discharge was discovered and corrected in a very timely manner and all appropriate agencies were notified promptly," Gillenwater said. "The discharge has not and is not expected to affect any water plants."

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