Coal sludge spill threatens fish in KY, WV


Mar 11, 2001
Reaction score
Hundreds of thousands of gallons of coal waste spilled into streams in Kentucky, West Virginia

By ROGER ALFORD, The Associated Press


PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Nearly 135,000 gallons of coal waste spilled into eastern Kentucky streams and tributaries after a pipe at a coal processing plant ruptured.

Officials said Wednesday the tar-like coal waste started spilling from the Sidney Coal Co. plant into tributaries of the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River on Tuesday night.

"We are still investigating, but we don't know why it broke," said Katherine Kinney, a spokeswoman for Massey Energy, which owns the plant.

By Wednesday, a plume of black water stretched up to eight miles long in tributaries and into the Tug Fork. Officials said many fish had been killed, but could not specify how many.

Some towns and cities in Kentucky and West Virginia along the Tug Fork closed off drinking water intakes overnight to protect water supplies.

"This is bad, but it's nothing compared to the severity of the previous one," said Bill Davis, Mingo County emergency service director.

On Oct. 11, 2000, more than 300 million gallons of coal sludge burst from behind an impoundment owned by Martin County Coal Co., clogging streams, killing millions of fish and turning more than 60 miles of the Tug Fork black.

Martin County Coal, also owned by Massey Energy, spent $40 million cleaning up that mess, which the Environmental Protection Agency called one of the worst environmental disasters in the Southeast.

Latest Posts

Top Bottom