UPDATE: Coal Slurry Spills into Crooked Run in Boone County

Mar 24, 2017

Credit David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

West Virginia environmental officials say coal slurry leaked into Crooked Run near Peytona in Boone County, south of Charleston. 

 

Updated March 24, 2017 1:00 p.m.

According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), an Imminent Harm Cessation Order remains in effect at the Admiral Processing operation near Peytona, W.Va. in Boone County. This follows the announcement that a coal slurry leak was reported there March 23. Admiral Processing is an affiliate of Alpha Natural Resources.

Jake Glance, Public Information Officer with the WVDEP, says all the outfalls, or the water leaving the processing facility, have been stopped. “Stockpiled coal is being moved out of the area to facilitate site clean up,” Glance said in a press release Friday. “Water containing coal slurry is being pumped from containment ponds to slurry ponds.”

Inspectors with the WVDEP's Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR) believe the slurry leaked from a hole ½ inch wide in a 90 degree elbow joint in a pipe and the hole had a maximum flow of 30 gallons per minute. The slurry leaked for approximately three hours. The amount of coal slurry leaked into a containment pond and then into Crooked Run is still uncertain.

DEP inspectors say the facility had an alarm system on the site that was to alert them if pressure significantly dropped in the pipe, indicating leaking slurry. But it appears the amount that was leaking was not large enough to trigger the alarm.

Crooked Run flows into Drawdy Creek, which in turn flows into the Coal River. A full chemical and biological assessment is being conducted on Drawdy Creek. Additional enforcement action against Admiral Processing is possible pending the result of the biological assessment.

DEP inspectors are also investigating a report of a second coal slurry leak at the site at approximately 5:45 p.m., when contaminated water was being pumped out of Crooked Run. A pump backfilled because of a valve fail, causing a second release. The amount of coal slurry leaked in the second incident is under investigation. 

The nearest public water system is Lincoln County PSD, which has an intake approximately 17 miles downstream on the Coal River. St. Albans also has an intake on the Coal River, approximately 35 miles downstream. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (BPH) continues to coordinate with the water utilities.

Original Post March 3, 2017 5 a.m.

The Department of Environmental Protection said in a news release Thursday an imminent harm cessation order was issued for the Admiral Processing operation, which is an affiliate of Alpha Natural Resources.

The amount of slurry spilled into Crooked Run is being investigated. The agency said inspectors believe the slurry came from a burst pipe at the facility.

Crooked Run flows into Drawdy Creek, which then flows into the Coal River. Officials at water treatment plants in Lincoln County and St. Albans have been notified of the spill. Both have intakes on the Coal River, and they are being shut down overnight as a precaution.