Energy & Environment

9:43 am
Fri July 18, 2014

W.Va. Environmental Regulators Order Surface Mine to Stop Work

Blast warning signs are posted throughout the forest on sites near Middle Lick Mountain.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 West Virginia environmental officials have ordered a new surface coal mining operation near Kanawha State Forest to halt mining.

The stop-work order is from the Department of Environmental Protection. Inspectors issued an "imminent harm cessation order" when they found cracks in a barrier intended to contain runoff in a sediment-control ditch.

It's also meant to prevent dirt and mud from the site from entering a nearby creek.

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Around the Nation
4:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Months From Water Crisis, Leaking W.Va. Tanks Are Demolished

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:40 pm



At the beginning of the year, residents of Charleston, West Virginia smelled a licorice odor in their water. It turned out a chemical used in coal production had leaked out of a nearby storage tank, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 people. This week, tanks at the center of this crisis are being demolished. But as Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports, that doesn't necessarily bring closure.

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Energy Efficiency
11:46 am
Thu July 17, 2014

The Three Ways the NAACP Says W.Va. Can Reduce Pollution and Create Jobs

NAACP West Virginia Political Action Chair Kenneth Hale at the organization's press conference at the Capitol.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Civil rights and environmental advocates gathered at the Capitol Thursday morning for the release of a new national report. The NAACP’s Just Energy Policies details ways states can reduce pollution and create jobs.

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2:15 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

National Park Service Seeks Volunteers for Sampling

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The National Park Service in Glen Jean is gearing up for a sampling program and is looking for volunteers. 

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Tank Demolition
6:22 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Photos & Video: Demolition of Freedom Industries Site Begins

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries contractors began the demolition process  at the site of a January chemical leak that tainted the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians. Contractors knocked out a wall and ripped piping materials from the tanks Tuesday.

Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch said four tanks will remain up to store stormwater and waste at the site until their contents are removed.  He said, at that point, the contents will be removed and those tanks will be torn down at the end of the process.  

Welch says Tank No. 396, which is the tank that stored MCHM and leaked into the river on January 9, will be demolished sometime next week. 

Here are some images of the site just before and during the initial phases of the demolition process:

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Chemical Spill
5:06 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Tank Demolition Underway at Freedom Site

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Demolition has started on at the site of a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated public drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians.

Independence Excavating began the demolition process Tuesday by knocking down a brick wall, tearing out piping, and removing materials connected to the tanks. Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch says the first cuts to the tanks will come Wednesday.

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10:45 am
Tue July 15, 2014

State Investigates Sheen on Monongahela River in Fairmont

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

  State environmental regulators are investigating a sheen on the Monongahela River in Fairmont.

The Department of Environmental Protection tells media outlets that the substance appeared to be petroleum based.

The DEP says the substance won't affect Fairmont's water supply. The city's water intake is upstream on the Tygart Valley River.

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5:53 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

DEP Approves Stormwater Management Plan for Freedom Tank Demolition

Credit AP

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a stormwater management plan for the demolition of the Charleston Freedom Industries site. The tanks there were involved in the contamination of the drinking water for some 300,000 West Virginians in January.

According to the plan approved Monday, Freedom Industries contractors will place liners over the footprint of the tanks to prevent stormwater from unintentionally entering the ground.

Contractors will also halt the demolition process if more than two inches of rain falls within a six-hour period.

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Mountaintop Removal
10:16 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

New Coalition Battles Mine Site Near State Forest

Kanawha County resident Doug Woods points out Middle Lick Mountain just over his shoulder, a site that has been approved for mountaintop removal mining near the Kanawha State Forest.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 7 miles outside of Charleston sits 9,300 acres of protected land. The Kanawha State Forest is home to hiking and biking trails, campsites and a shooting range, but just a few hundred acres away, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a mountain top removal mine site.

The Kanawha State Forest Coalition, a group of concerned Kanawha County residents, formed to fight the site and get the administration to withdraw the permit, saving hundreds of plant and animal species on Middle Lick Mountain where mining is set to begin.

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Scientific Research
12:07 am
Sun July 13, 2014

How Will Brook Trout Respond To Climate Change?

Scientist Than Hitt is researching how brook trout might respond to climate change in this lab in Leetown, West Virginia.
Credit Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the climate changes, scientists around the world are trying to figure out how plants, animals and even people will be affected. One scientist in West Virginia is conducting an experiment to find out how well a fish native to Appalachian streams might survive.

This audio is pending

Biologist Than Hitt works at the U.S. Geological Survey Leetown Science Center in Jefferson County, West Virginia, where scientists explore everything from declining fish and mussel populations to the increasing presence of intersex fish in the nation’s waterways. Hitt has just started a new research project: trying to determine how climate change might affect the brook trout.

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11:29 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Air Checks Not Planned During Freedom Industries Tank Removal

Credit AP

  State and federal environmental officials say they don't have a way to monitor air quality as chemical storage tanks are taken down at the industrial site that fouled public drinking supplies for 300,000 West Virginia water customers.

The work is scheduled to begin next week at the former Freedom Industries site on the Elk River.

A spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection told The Charleston Gazette the state lacks the technology to perform the air testing for traces of the toxic chemical MCHM. She also said there are no established screening values for safe inhalation levels.

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Energy & Environment
10:30 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Manchin Wants Public to Speak Out on EPA Carbon Rules

  U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is encouraging West Virginia residents to speak out on new pollution limits.

Manchin is directing state residents to the Federal Register to voice their concerns regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants. The Federal Register serves as a federal portal where all Americans can voice their comments before any federal government agency's proposed rule can be implemented.

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Law & Order
7:21 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

First Man in Arch Coal Kickback Case Pleads Guilty

A Logan County man is facing up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud connected to a kickback scheme at an Arch Coal mine.

Gary Roeher pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston. The 52-year-old from Holden admitted he illegally claimed business-expense deductions for kickbacks paid to an Arch official at the Mountain Laurel Mining complex in Logan County.

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7:41 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

85-Year-Old Veteran and Environmental Activist Begins Extended Fast

Roland Micklem
Credit Roxy Todd

Inside the West Virginia Capitol Building, Roland Micklem sits on a marble bench, holding in one hand a handmade wooden cane. In his other hand is a small poster, a kind of manifesto, which he wrote to explain his reasons for going on an extended fast, without consuming any food except water, coffee and juice.

Micklem hopes that his quiet campaign will in some way inspire more awareness for the various causes of climate change, which he says include mountain top removal mining. Activists Vincent Eirene and Mike Roselle are joining the 85-year-old army veteran in this fast.

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Completion July 2015
2:25 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Bridge Replacement Means New River Closures and Detours

Closures and detours scheduled over the next year as Thomas Buford Pugh Memorial Bridge in Fayette County is replaced.
Credit Google Earth

A bridge closing in Fayette County means long-term disruption for river
traffic as well.

The West Virginia Department of Highways and the Federal Highways Administration are replacing the Thomas Buford Pugh Memorial Bridge on Route 41 in the town of Prince.

Construction of the new bridge will require temporary full river traffic closures and long term river detours between Prince and the town of McCreery on the New River.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and the detour will remain in effect until the project is completed  next July.

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Federal Fines
9:09 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Freedom Industries Fined $11,000 for Elk River Spill

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A federal agency has fined the company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply $11,000 for a pair of violations.

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Freedom Industries $7,000 for keeping storage tanks containing crude MCHM behind a diked wall that was not liquid tight. On Jan. 9, roughly 10,000 gallons of MCHM leaked from one of the tanks and through the riverside diked wall and left 300,000 residents without clean water for days.

OSHA also fined Freedom Industries $4,000 for failing to have standard railings on an elevated platform.

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Mine Safety
5:57 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Federal Regulator Issues Citations to Wyoming Co. Mine for Black Lung, Explosion Hazards

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 38 citations as a result of an inspection of Rhino Eastern LLC's Eagle Mine 3 in Wyoming County.  MSHA says inspectors found conditions that put miners at risk of developing black lung disease and increased the potential for deadly explosions.

According to a news release issued Monday, inspectors arrived at the mine mid-morning on June 24, securing the mine’s phone systems on the surface that provide communications to the underground mining section. They traveled to the underground working section, where they arrived undetected. There, they determined that the mine operator failed to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations of the underground mine. 

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4:47 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Water Company Provides Testimony to PSC Regarding Elk River Spill Response

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water has met Wednesday's deadline to provide testimony to the Public Service Commission regarding an investigation into the water company’s response to the January chemical spill into the Elk River.  

In May, the PSC opened a general investigation into the incident.

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10:47 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Could a Once Polluted Section of the Kanawha River Be Used for Drinking Water?

Credit West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

There’s a 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha River that runs from the small town of Diamond, near Belle in southern Kanawha County, all the way to Point Pleasant where it flows into the Ohio River. Since 1980, this section—known as Zone 1 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection—has been exempt from being classified as Category A. That exemption prevents that section of the Kanawha River from being used as a source for drinking water. 

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Pittsburgh Rally Planned
5:15 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

UMWA Plans Rally to Protest Proposed EPA Regs

Credit Bernard Pollack/(aflcio)

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is planning to make its objections to proposed EPA rules loud and clear. The union has a rally scheduled at the end of the month in Pittsburgh.


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