Tag Archive for 'elk river'

West Virginia Creek Runs Black After Catastrophic Coal Slurry Spill

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Waters are running black for roughly six miles in West Virginia’s Fields Creek after more than 100,000 gallons of toxic coal slurry poured into the waterway from a Patriot Coal processing facility Tuesday.

“This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection at a news conference Tuesday evening. “When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

The spill comes just one month after the Elk River disaster, when 10,000 gallons of coal cleaning detergent Crude MCHM leaked into the river, contaminating the water supply for millions of residents living in and around the capital, Charleston.

Emergency officials said Tuesday that a “smaller amount of the slurry” had already traveled from the creek to the Kanawha River near the town of Chesapeake, West Virginia. Chesapeake is situated roughly 13 miles south along the Kanawha River from Charleston.

“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” Huffman said of Tuesday’s spill which occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation.

The spill was reportedly caused by a malfunction of a valve inside the slurry line. And although the valve broke sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 Tuesday morning, Patriot Coal did not call the DEP to alert them of the leak until 7:40 Tuesday morning, the Charleston Gazette quoted Huffman as saying.

There are some conflicting reports as to whether the slurry contains Crude MCHM or another chemical, polyethylene glycol. Regardless, the Gazette reports, the slurry contains a variety of substances and heavy metals such as iron, manganese, aluminum, and selenium that “are likely more toxic” than either Crude MCHM or polyethylene glycol.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Thousands Without Water After Spill in West Virginia

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As 300,000 people awoke on Friday to learn that their tap water was unsafe for brushing teeth, brewing coffee or showering, residents and businesses expressed a mix of anger and anxiety in coping with an industrial accident with no clear end in sight.

Schools were closed, restaurants locked their doors and hotels refused reservations. Store shelves were quickly stripped of bottled water, and traffic snarled as drivers waited to fill jugs from tankers delivered by the National Guard.

“It’s worrying me so much I’m having chest pains,” said Cookie Lilly, 71, who waited with her husband to get a ration of four gallons of water at the South Charleston Community Center.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who ordered the ban on drinking, bathing and cooking with tap water in Charleston, the state capital, and nine surrounding counties, called on people not to panic.

“Help is on the way,” he said in a statement. “There is no shortage of bottled water. Supplies are moving into the area as we speak.”

Asked at a news conference about his “personal hygiene,” the governor sought a touch of levity. “It would be great to hop in a hot shower, but we’ll get through it,” he said. “We’re tough West Virginians.”

Mayor Danny Jones of Charleston said the do-not-drink order was strangling businesses. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to function like this, or not function like this,” he said, speaking as he drove home on Friday evening in uncommonly light traffic and passed a mall he said was nearly deserted.

The mayor and everyone else said their greatest worry was that no one in authority would say how long it would be before the water supply was potable again.

Officials said that up to 5,000 gallons of an industrial chemical used in coal processing seeped from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, just upstream of the intake pipes for the regional water company.

Authorities struggled to determine how much danger the little-known chemical, MCHM, or 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, posed.”

Read more: New York Times