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Patriot cited again in slurry spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia regulators have cited Patriot Coal again for additional problems at a Kanawha County coal preparation plant where a major coal slurry spill occurred last week.

The state Department of Environmental Protection issued another "notice of violation" to Patriot's Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant on Fields Creek near Winifrede.

DEP inspectors on Wednesday evening cited the company for "failure to minimize the disturbance of the hydrologic balance within the permit and adjacent areas ... in that blackened water was allowed to discharge from Fields Creek into the Kanawha River, causing discoloration of a downstream section of the Kanawha River."

In a press release, DEP spokesman Tom Aluise said that the notice of violation was issued after "a rapid rise in stream levels" on Fields Creek "stirred up silt settled in the creek bed," resulting in the discolored water entering the Kanawha. "The rise in stream levels was attributed to rapid snow melt," the press release said.

The notice orders Patriot to "cease all activity that may contribute to conditions not allowable in state waters."

"The company must provide a durable surface on all roadways and evaluate all sediment control structures for retention time," DEP said in its press release. "The company must also submit a work plan detailing all cleanup efforts and management of high-flow situations. In addition, the work plan is to include scheduled daily monitoring of Fields Creek."

DEP said that Patriot's ability to respond to the high-flow situation on Wednesday "was hindered by the company's concerns for the safety of its workers in swift-water conditions."

On Feb. 11, more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry spilled from the Patriot Coal site into Fields Creek, when a valve malfunctioned on the line that carries slurry from the company's preparation plant to its disposal facility.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.

 


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