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Ken Ward Jr.

Staff writer
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DEP lays out long-term chemical tank safety plans

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As chemical tank owners across West Virginia scrambled to meet Wednesday’s deadline to register with state regulators, Department of Environmental Protection officials hosted an unusual daylong session to explain ...

Trans Energy pleads guilty to pollution violations

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A St. Marys-based oil and gas company pleaded guilty Wednesday to three federal pollution charges, admitting in court that it dumped materials for its drilli...

EPA wins another round on Spruce Mine veto

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday won another major legal victory in the long saga of one of the largest mountaintop removal mining permits in West Virginia history.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman...

Patriot cited in double fatality at Boone mine

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — At about 10 p.m. on May 9, continuous mining machine operator Rob Sammons was loading a shuttle car with coal at Patriot Coal’s Brody Mine No. 1 when a nearby mine wall exploded. Sammons...

DEP concerned about pace of Freedom Industries cleanup

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Managers of bankrupt Freedom Industries continue to work toward getting their Elk River facility into a “voluntary” industrial remediation program, but Department of Environmental Protection officials want ...

McKinley, Democrat colleague propose help for laid-off miners

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Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., is a coal industry backer who questions the science on climate change and calls President Obama’s efforts to address the problem a “war on coal.” Rep. Peter Welch, D-Ver...

Tennant would back Rockefeller bill on black lung; Capito mum

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A new bill would make broad changes to the federal black lung program, intending to make it easier for miners suffering from the disease to receive the government benefits they are owed.

Judge rejects water company effort to block Freedom settlement

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A federal bankruptcy judge has rejected West Virginia American Water Company’s effort to block a class-action settlement between Freedom Industries and thousands of victims of January’s Elk River chemical s...

DEP facing lawsuit over access to mining pollution data

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The state Department of Environmental Protection is facing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over its refusal to provide a public interest law firm with a slice of agency data that shows recent water pollution levels ...

Worst form of black lung is roaring back

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The worst type of black lung disease now affects a larger share of Appalachian coal miners than at any time since the 1970s, government researchers warned in a new data analysis published Monda...

Study blames methane leaks on faulty well casings

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Problems with natural gas well construction appears to be the primary cause of drinking water contamination from shale-gas extraction, according to a new study published today by researchers from five universities.

MCHM leak not focus of CDC-W.Va. health study

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Tomblin administration officials on Friday touted an agreement to work with federal officials on a medical monitoring program but conceded that the effort will not focus on the hundreds of thousands of West Virginians af...

W.Va. hesitant to go public with crude oil shipment info

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Amid continued national controversy over increased rail shipments of crude oil, West Virginia emergency response officials are reconsidering whether they will make public more detailed information provided by CSX Corp. a...

Braxton spill didn’t reach Elk River, DEP says

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State Department of Environmental Protection officials said Friday they don’t believe any natural gas drilling waste from a truck that wrecked in Braxton County on Thursday made it into the Elk River.

The in...

C8 panel: Illness link findings didn’t rely on ex-WVU researcher

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A panel of scientists that linked exposure to the DuPont Co. chemical C8 to human illnesses said Thursday those findings did not rely on the work of a former West Virginia University researcher whose qualifications have ...

Ex-WVU professor lied on rèsumè, NBC News says

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West Virginia University officials are not releasing details about allegations that a former professor in the university’s School of Public Health was hired with false credentials.

According to

Former foreman sues Murray Energy over firing

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A former Murray Energy preparation plant foreman is suing the company, alleging she was fired because she did not make campaign contributions to Murray CEO Bob Murray’s preferred political candidates, according to...

DEP rule called ‘practical step’ on tank inspections

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Tomblin administration officials Tuesday unveiled a temporary rule aimed at easing the first round of chemical storage tank inspections the industry is required to complete by Jan. 1 under the law passed to try to preven...

Patriot Coal considering more layoffs

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Patriot Coal said Tuesday it is considering more layoffs at its Corridor G mining complex near Danville in Boone County.

The complex, which includes the Hobet 21 surface mine and the Beth Station preparation plant,...

DEP plans to tailor chemical tank inspections

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Department of Environmental Protection officials plan to announce as early as Tuesday a proposed rule outlining a focused plan for mandated inspections of thousands of chemical storage tanks ac...

Judge concerned Freedom Industries won’t clean up Elk River facility

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A federal bankruptcy judge is becoming increasing concerned that Freedom Industries may abandon its former Elk River chemical storage facility without completing a proper environmental cleanup of the site of the January ...

Judge rules again to let black lung benefits lawsuit against Jackson Kelly proceed

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A Raleigh County judge has again ruled that the families of three coal miners can pursue lawsuits alleging that the Jackson Kelly law firm concealed evidence that those miners had black lung disease.

Water alternatives needed exploring, new PSC filings show

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A temporary drinking-water intake on the Kanawha River and barging in large amounts of emergency water were among the alternatives that could be examined in a never-completed plan for how West Virgin...

Tomblin names water commission members

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With the clock ticking and its first report due in mid-December, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Thursday finally named members to serve on the new state Public Water System Supply Commission set up as part of legislation passe...

Trans Energy facing criminal charges over drilling pollution

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A St. Marys-based natural gas company that agreed to a $3 million civil penalty is also facing federal criminal charges related to its dumping of material from its drilling operations into West Virginia streams without f...

GOP leader urges caution on tank law changes

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House Minority Leader Tim Armstead on Tuesday said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin should take a cautious approach when considering calling a special session to make changes to the chemical tank safety b...

Freedom eyes DEP’s voluntary cleanup program

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Freedom Industries is considering trying to enter West Virginia’s voluntary industrial site remediation program to help ease the cleanup of its Elk River facility, where a chemical leak in January contaminated the...

DuPont agrees to $1.3M in chemical leak fines

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DuPont Co. has agreed to pay nearly $1.3 million in fines to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to resolve violations the EPA cited after a string of 2010 chemical leaks, including one that kil...

PSC chairman recuses himself from spill probe

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The chairman of the state Public Service Commission has recused himself from an increasingly controversial case in which the commission is investigating West Virginia American Water Co.’s resp...

Kessler, Miley want special session to delay chemical tank safety deadline

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West Virginia’s top two legislative Democrats moved Wednesday to put more pressure on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session to delay the deadline for owners of chemical storage tanks...

Tomblin weighs delay of chem tank certification

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Tomblin administration is discussing potential plans for a special session where lawmakers could consider pushing back one of the key deadlines contained in the chemical storage tank bill p...

PSC: W.Va. American Water must turn over some records in MCHM case

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The state Public Service Commission on Friday ordered West Virginia American Water to turn over many of the documents that consumer advocates, businesses and citizen groups want to review as part of the PSC’s inve...

Water company wants secrecy in PSC leak investigation

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Attorneys for West Virginia American Water are insisting that the state Public Service Commission not force them to release any documents that explain what sort of planning the company did to prepare for potential contam...

State responds to mine guard death

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State inspectors have told a coal-mine security company to create a check-in system for its guards following the April drowning of a security supervisor at a Kanawha County coal-loading dock.

The state Office of Mi...

Tomblin has not named water panel members

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More than four months after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed into law legislation responding to the January water crisis, the governor has yet to appoint members of a new commission charged with coming up with other ways to ...

Judge rules corps can ignore mining health studies

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A federal judge in Charleston ruled this week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not have to consider scientific studies linking mountaintop removal to public health problems when the agency approves new Clean Wa...

U.S. agency: DHHR can’t handle chemical incidents

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources lacks a program and properly trained staff to assess community-wide chemical exposures like those that followed the Elk River chemical leak in...

PSC may allow probe of water company’s crisis plans

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission indicated Monday that it will allow an investigation of West Virginia American Water Co.’s response to January’s Elk River chemical leak to inc...

W.Va. American Water repeatedly delayed locating potential Elk River contamination sites

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Back in April 2006, officials from West Virginia American Water told state regulators they were planning to review the Elk River watershed to find out what potential contamination sources were upstream from their Kanawha...

W.Va. American Water moved Elk River intake to site downstream from chemical tanks when treatment plant was built

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When West Virginia American Water built its Kanawha Valley drinking water plant 45 years ago, the company dropped a plan that would have kept an existing intake near Coonskin Park, upstream from an industrial facility th...

280 jobs to be cut at 5 mines in October

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Alum Creek-based Coal River Mining LLC plans to cut 280 jobs at five mines and associated support operations because of “current adverse market conditions,” the company told gover...

Water company warns DEP about plan for stricter Kanawha River regulation

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West Virginia American Water Co. is questioning a state government proposal to redesignate the lower Kanawha River as a potential public drinking-water source, complaining that industrial pollution reductions that the ch...

W.Va. wants $1.8 million from Freedom bankruptcy

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West Virginia government agencies have filed a nearly $1.8 million claim in the bankruptcy of Freedom Industries, seeking repayment of money they spent responding to Freedom’s January chemical leak, which contamin...

Valve failure causes explosion, leak at Nitro facility

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Valves failed Wednesday on two chemical storage tanks at a Nitro industrial waste-handling facility, causing an explosion and an oil leak that was contained within the operation’s spill-collection system, official...

PSC ‘extremely concerned’ about dispute over spill probe’s scope

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The state Public Service Commission said Tuesday that it is “extremely concerned” about its investigation of West Virginia American Water Co.’s response to the Elk River chemical spill, citing a grow...