Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition


Coal slurry spills into Raleigh creek

Slurry spill reported at Marfork plant

Thousands celebrate Christmas at Massey's Extravaganza

Booster Pump Failure Results in Slurry Spill in Coal River Tributary


More of Massey's Total Environment

December 10, 2005
Photos by Sarah Haltom Unless Otherwise Noted

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Sludge Spills: The Gifts Massey Keeps on Giving
As Massey Energy gave out gifts to low income kids in Kentucky, it gave out another "gift" to the larger community, one it gives out far too frequently: another blackwater (sludge) spill.

Saturday morning, Coal River Mountain Watch volunteer Bo Webb was in the group's office in Whitesville when someone knocked on the door. It was a neighbor, with a bottle full of blackwater--evidence of the latest mishap at the Marfork Coal processing plant, a Massey subsidiary. Blackwater was pouring from the plant into Marsh Fork, a tributary of the Little Coal River. (Water from these streams joins the Kanawha River, which joins the Ohio River, which joins the Mississippi; millions of people live downstream from Massey's messes.)

Bo called CRMW's Sarah and Vern Haltom, who took alerted the media and the so-called Department on Environmental Protection. The pair snapped photos and collected samples.  Sarah and Vern watched the creek raise about 8 inches during the most intense period of blackwater release from the plant. Vern is CRMW's representative on the Sludge Safety Project, a collaborative effort of OVEC, CRMW and concerned residents of Mingo County.

A pump that moves the heavy metal, chemical-laden waste from processing coal up to the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment had failed. As one TV station covering Massey's exploits that day noted, Massey had the pump failure, while simultaneously pumping gifts to kids low income kids.

The DEP told the media that no drinking water supplies were affected, which isn't really accurate. Whitesville draws its water from the Coal River, and did shut down during the blackwater surge. However, not all the blackwater flowed on downstream. Some sludge settled to the bottom, to be stirred up every time there is a heavy rainfall. And what about the water intake plants downstream. For instance, did the St. Albans plant, near where the Coal River flows into the Kanawha shut down?

TV news inaccurately reported that the spill was just above Marsh Fork Elementary, but it was at Pettus, by the Head Start school there. 

Below are some pictures of Massey's gift that it keeps on giving, as well as  a recent aerial shot of the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment, which is slated to hold 9 Billion gallons of sludge.

All these blackwater spills make you wonder if the Astroturf group "Friends of Coal" should be known as "Enemies of Water."

Vern investigates the Masey blackwater spill.
Vern investigates the blackwater spill.

Massey Coal slurry spills into Raleigh creek

Massey Coal slurry spills into Raleigh creek

Massey Coal slurry spills into Raleigh creek

Massey Coal slurry spills into Raleigh creek

Vern! Don't let this Massey stuff get on your skin!
Vern! Don't let this stuff get on your skin!

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