Energy & Environment

Barbour County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

Another person has been killed in an explosion at a West Virginia industrial plant where two people were killed last month, authorities said Tuesday.

Officials said the explosion Tuesday morning was at Midland Resource Recovery, a company based in Ontario, Canada, that odorizes natural gas.

In a preliminary report, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said contractors at the facility outside Philippi were disassembling a 30-gallon tank, trying to render tanks safe from the previous explosion May 24 that killed two and injured one.

Elk River
Malepheasant / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's Public Service Commission on Thursday issued a final settlement order closing its investigation into West Virginia American Water's role in a chemical spill and resulting water crisis in the Charleston area in January 2014.

Thousands of gallons of a coal-cleaning agent leaked from a Freedom Industries storage tank into the Elk River, leaving 300,000 people in nine counties without water for up to nine days. Businesses in the state's largest drinking water system were temporarily shut. Hundreds of people headed to emergency rooms for issues from nausea to rashes after contact with tap water that smelled like licorice.

Authorities say a 32-year-old miner has been killed at a mine in southern West Virginia.

The Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training says the incident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Rockwell Mining LLC Gateway Eagle Mine.

Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a month-long sampling of water and soil for PCB chemicals in West Virginia.

The testing in Minden until Friday is for polychlorinated biphenyls, which were commonly used as an electrical equipment insulator. The EPA lists PCBs as a "possible" carcinogen and in 1977 banned their used except in totally enclosed systems.

Pleasants County
David Benbennick / Wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia county has designated three new water trails that follow segments of the Ohio River and two tributaries.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Pleasants County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the three St. Marys-area trails on Friday. The Middle Island Creek Water Trail, French Creek Water Trail and Ohio River Wildlife Refuge Water Trail join more than a dozen such trails in West Virginia.

Alpha Natural Resources

Alpha Natural Resources says it is plans to open a new underground coal mine in West Virginia this summer and create more than 50 jobs.

The Kingsport, Tennessee, coal producer says the Panther Eagle Mine at subsidiary Marfork Coal is expected to begin extracting metallurgical coal as early as July.

Federal mine safety officials will discuss recent coal mining deaths during a meeting this week in West Virginia.

The meeting Thursday in Beaver, West Virginia, near Beckley, will also address regulatory issues. Interested parties unable to attend may participate via teleconference or online using WebEx.

Tire Pile
SuperJew / wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is holding several events for residents to dispose of tires this month.

The Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan events will be Wednesday in Summers County; Saturday in Ohio, Boone and Hardy counties; June 15 in Doddridge County; and June 21 in McDowell County. Events were held previously in Upshur and Harrison counties.

Kenn W. Kiser / morguefile.com

Many political leaders in the Ohio Valley approve of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. But surveys indicate that public opinion across the region varies, with a slight majority saying they’d like the country to stay the course on climate change.

 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, independent producer Jean Snedegar takes us on a journey through the history of the Mountain State's timber legacy.

And A Change of Tune's Joni Deutsch kicks off her second season of 30 Days of West Virginia Music series. We'll hear a portion of her interview with Adam Meisterhans, of the band Rozwell Kid.

A large log landing -- Green Mountain, Tucker County, circa 1910.
Photo courtesy of Robert C. Whetsell

"Just as we came to the hills, we met with a Sycamore.....of a most extraordinary size, it measuring three feet from the ground, forty-five feet round, lacking two inches; and not fifty yards from it was another, thirty-one feet round."

– George Washington, written while exploring the Great Kanawha River, Nov. 4, 1770

Flood, Greenbrier
Steve Helber / AP Photo

Flood-affected communities in southern West Virginia are receiving federal aid to help clean up brownfield sites for future development. 

Michael Virtanen / AP

MATOAKA, W.Va. — The red caboose parked at the edge of a rundown commercial block is the only rail car some people have seen in Matoaka in more than a year.

It bears the markings of the Norfolk and Western Railway, a company merged years ago and absorbed into oblivion, like Amoco and Oldsmobile. It has come to rest here, a relic of the past.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch through Monday morning for southwest West Virginia, as well as northeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia.

The watch begins Saturday afternoon.

The service says there's a risk of severe thunderstorms Saturday with damaging winds, large hail and an isolated tornado possible.

gary cohn, jim mattis
Evan Vucci / AP

The president's chief economic adviser is casting doubt on the future of U.S. coal, saying it "doesn't really make that much sense anymore as a feedstock," directly contradicting President Donald Trump's repeated promises to revive the struggling coal industry.

Briefing reporters Thursday night on Air Force One, Gary Cohn singled out natural gas as "such a cleaner fuel." By exporting more natural gas and investing in wind and solar energy, the U.S. "can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly," Cohn said.

Two Dead After Explosion in Barbour County

May 24, 2017
Barbour County
David Benbennick / wikimedia commons

Two people are dead in Barbour County this afternoon following an explosion at Midland Resource Recovery, according to Barbour County Emergency Management.

One other person was injured and taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / New River Gorge, Fayette County, Fayette Station Road

Water safety instruction will be given this weekend at New River Gorge National River.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are offering their annual safety program on Saturday and Sunday. Water safety activities are free and offer the chance for anyone to learn how to be safe during recreational activities around water.

State authorities say a 44-year-old shuttle car operator has been killed at a mine in southern West Virginia.

The Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training says Luches Rosser of Man, West Virginia, was operating a locomotive when the incident occurred after 11 p.m. Thursday at the Pinnacle Mining Co. mine in Wyoming County.

Courtesy: Shell Chemicals

Legislators from Ohio and West Virginia are hoping to capitalize on the natural gas boom by building a new ethane storage hub in the region.

pipeline
AP Photo/Sergii Ryzhkov

The State Historic Preservation Office says a natural gas pipeline project across Ohio hasn't honored an agreement to pay for harm done to historic properties.

The Repository in Canton reports the Rover Pipeline agreed to pay $1.5 million annually for five years but hasn't made the first payment, which was due two months ago. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has jurisdiction over the project and has been asked to handle the dispute.

stars
wikimedia

Stargazers are being invited to watch the sky over central West Virginia this weekend.

The fourth annual Calhoun Stargaze is set for Friday through Sunday at the Calhoun County Park in Grantsville. The park is known for its pitch-dark conditions for favorable nighttime viewing.

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is marking his release from federal custody with an appeal for vindication by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Blankenship served a one-year federal prison sentence after being convicted of conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws. The charges stemmed from the disaster at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia in 2010 that left 29 coal miners dead.

Coal has long had a grip on American politics. That's why politicians worry about its fate. They tout the fossil fuel's contribution to the U.S. economy, but lately they've also been trying to find a way to clean up coal's image.

"HydroFrac2" by Mikenorton - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HydroFrac2.svg#mediaviewer/File:HydroFrac2.svg

A study from Duke University found no evidence that groundwater is threatened by horizontal gas drilling. Surface water might be another story.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcast

Lawmakers from coal-mining states are pushing to extend health benefits for more than 22,000 retired miners and widows whose medical coverage is set to expire at the end of April. Last December, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and other coal-state Democrats won a four-month extension that preserves benefits through April 30. With lawmakers returning to the Capitol following a two-week recess, Manchin says the time for extensions is over and that more than a partial fix is needed.

Melissa Thomas Van Gundy at the  Fernow Experimental Forest in Tucker County, W.Va.
Jean Sendegar / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This story is part of an occasional series from independent producer Jean Snedegar about the timber and forest products industry here in the Mountain State – from seedlings to final products.

One of the oldest and largest industries in West Virginia is the timber and wood products industry.  West Virginia is rich in this renewable natural resource, but the housing downturn that began 10 years ago hit the industry hard. 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The CEO of the nation’s biggest public utility said Tuesday that the agency isn’t going to reopen coal-fired power plants under President Donald Trump, who has promised a comeback for the downtrodden coal industry.

Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Bill Johnson said he thinks very little will actually change for the federal utility under Trump.

DuPont's Washington Works
Parkersburg News & Sentinel

Critics say DuPont has spent too little on testing Ohio and West Virginia residents for contamination from a chemical used to make Teflon, while paying millions to a lawyer overseeing the testing program.

The Columbus Dispatch reports DuPont spent about $860,000 on testing over a 2 ½-year period for contamination from the chemical used to make Teflon at its Washington Works plant, along the Ohio River.

Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal.

Butt points out a new engine assembly line, where a conveyor belt moves in a slow circle. He says it was specially designed with a more efficient motor. There are also enormous fans overhead and LED lights, all changes that save millions.

rattlesnake
TimVickers / Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife officials are asking West Virginians to let them know when they see timber rattlesnakes as part of a scientific project to determine their current distribution in the state.

According to the Division of Natural Resources, rattlesnakes are a critical part of healthy forest ecosystems and hunt mice and chipmunks, helping reduce the human risk of contracting Lyme disease and other diseases spread by the small mammals.

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