LUMBERPORT, W.Va. -- Investigators on Tuesday began looking for the cause of an embankment collapse at a massive CONSOL Energy coal slurry pond in Harrison County last week, as crews continued their search for a dozer operator who has been missing since his vehicle fell into the impoundment Friday afternoon.
MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said that "informal interviews" were conducted as the investigation of the incident at CONSOL's Nolan Run slurry impoundment, located near the company's Robinson Run underground mine.
Four days after the accident, the company, MSHA and state officials were slowly moving toward the recovery of the dozer from the soupy wastewater. The dozer operator, who has not been identified, is missing and presumed drowned, though federal officials continued to refer to a "rescue and recovery" operation.
MSHA used flatbed trucks to bring barges to the recovery site as crews dredged around the shoreline so the barges can be launched once they're assembled.
Small boats will maneuver the barges into place, and a certified marine surveyor will confirm the loads they can hold. The barges are about 12 feet wide and 36 feet long, like those that move coal along rivers, and they'll serve as the platform for the operation, Louviere said. Fifty-foot pipes will anchor the recovery platform.
"A 25-foot buffer zone will be established from the shore, which will be illuminated," Louviere said. "Anyone in this buffer zone will be required to have a spotter and be wearing a life jacket."
Louviere said the plan is to sink sheet pilings into the pond around the dozer, walling it off.