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W.Va. Coal Plant Reopens After Spill Into Streams

October 10, 2002|From Associated Press

LOGAN, W.Va. — LOGAN, W. Va.--A coal treatment plant reopened Wednesday, a day after a ruptured pipe spilled 100,000 gallons of coal slurry into two nearby streams, killing fish and raising concerns about the safety of the water supply.

State environmental inspectors said Bandmill Coal Co., a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co., could open as long as workers continued cleanup efforts.

By Wednesday afternoon, the spill had discolored the Guyandotte River. The slurry--concentrated and grayish-black on Tuesday--had broken up considerably, officials said.

"The cleanup is proceeding very well, and the operations of the plant itself were not going to impair the work," state inspection supervisor Joe Hager said.

Massey said its investigators have determined that human error caused the spill of slurry--a mixture of water, fine coal particles and other waste from washing coal to prepare it for market.

A mistakenly opened valve allowed slurry to enter a smaller water line. That raised pressure inside the pipe, causing it to rupture.

Bandmill faces as much as $15,000 in daily fines related to the spill and has been ordered to restore the smaller of the two creeks to its pre-spill condition. The slurry had mostly diluted by the time it reached the larger creek.

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