In the aftermath of a 300 acre coal ash spill in Tennessee, the Register-Herald ran an editorial this week asking whether coal waste sludge ponds found in West Virginia are safe. The article is here. The editorial takes a look at a problem that is much closer to home in the coalfields of West Virginia – coal sludge ponds.
The coal sludge pond that has received the most media coverage, and skepticism, in southern West Virginia is by far the coal sludge impoundment that sits above Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, West Virginia. This impoundment, owned by Massey Energy, contains 2.8 billion gallons of coal sludge held back by a 385 foot earthen dam. While the dam is tested frequently, according to the Coal River Mountain Watch Sludge Safety Project website, a failure of one of these coal sludge impoundments could be catastrophic.
Many of the mines who own the coal sludge impoundments claim that they are quite safe. This has yet to be proven, as the fly ash spill in Tennessee shows. In 2000, a coal sludge impoundment in Martin, Kentucky failed and nearly 300 million gallons of coal sludge was dumped into streams in the area. This is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of modern man, yet received little attention outside of the area. To contrast, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which nearly everyone in the United States remembers, spilled only 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean.
If you or a loved one have been injured or are concerned about a coal slurry impoundment in West Virginia, contact a WV coal slurry accident lawyer from Rist Law Offices. We will work with property owners and concerned citizens to make sure that coal companies are properly testing the impoundments. If an impoundment has leaked or failed and you or a loved one are injured, our office will work to hold the coal companies responsible for the injuries. We handle all injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not collect a fee until your case is settled or won in court. To set up a free consultation, contact us at 866-982-5299.
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