Get Connected
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Sign In
  • Classifieds
  • Sections

Ken Ward Jr.

Staff writer
  • Phone 304-348-1702
  • Email Send Mail
  • Dep Reporters

McKinney resigns PSC post

-

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will soon be faced with filling another vacancy on the state Public Service Commission.

Commissioner Jon McKinney is resigning effective Dec. 31, the governor’s office confirmed Friday....

Feds: Southern’s wealth has ‘disappeared’ since Freedom chemical leak

-

Federal prosecutors Thursday asked that Gary Southern be forced to post a secured bond, saying that $7 million of the former Freedom Industries president’s personal wealth has “dissipated or disappeared,&#x...

More charges could come in water lab case, prosecutors say

-

Federal authorities are continuing a criminal investigation of falsified water sampling at a coal industry laboratory in Raleigh County and more charges may be filed in the case, prosecutors said this week in a court fil...

Judge asked to loosen gag order in Blankenship criminal case

-

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A lawyer for the Charleston Gazette and other media organizations on Wednesday urged a federal judge to loosen restrictions on information about Don Blankenship’s criminal case.

Also, Blank...

Freedom makes deal on charges, records show

-

Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the January Elk River chemical leak, has told a bankruptcy judge that it has reached a criminal plea agreement with prosecutors, and federal officials have scheduled a news...

Lawmakers reject proposal ‘gutting’ water protections

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers on Monday rejected a proposal to eliminate the current policy that aims to protect all rivers and streams statewide as potential drinking water sources.

Members of...

Water commission issues first report

-

While some legislative leaders may be planning to revisit significant portions of the state’s new drinking water protection and chemical storage tank safety law, a commission studying the issue says it’s to...

Alpha agrees to curb mine conductivity pollution

-

Alpha Natural Resources has reached an agreement with citizen groups through which the company will clean up conductivity pollution that is harming aquatic life in streams near two of its strip-mining complexes, accordin...

Freedom gets $3.2M insurance agreement

-

Freedom Industries has reached a new agreement — for a more than $3 million payout — with its former insurance company, providing a momentum boost for the bankrupt company as it faces a...

Groups plan lawsuit over Hobet pollution

-

Environmental groups said Thursday that they are planning a major lawsuit over water pollution from Patriot Coal’s huge Hobet 21 mountaintop removal mining complex along the Boone-Lincoln County line in Southern W...

DEP could improve water sampling oversight, board told

-

West Virginia regulators lack a strong program to protect against falsification of coal company water samples, but could make changes that would improve their oversight of the industry and its laboratories, a state appea...

Judge sets hearing on Blankenship case gag order

-

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next week on an effort by The Charleston Gazette and other news outlets who challenged a gag order she issued in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship&#...

Criminal charges raise questions about funds in Freedom bankruptcy

-

Criminal charges filed against a former top executive of Freedom Industries have raised new questions about whether officials overseeing Freedom...

Prosecutors oppose delaying Blankenship trial

-

Prosecutors are opposing a request from former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for a delay in his trial on criminal charges that he conspired to violate ...

Goodwin: More coming on Freedom criminal probe

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bankruptcy fraud charges against former top Freedom Industries official Gary Southern are far from the end of a federal criminal investigation of the January 2014 chemical leak into the Elk Riv...

OSHA shelves rule on explosive dust

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four years after an explosion and fire at a Hancock County metals recycling plant killed three workers, the Obama administration has basically shelved a regulatory proposal that could help prev...

FOIA bill clears Senate after Rockefeller hold

-

Legislation that press freedom groups say would provide important reforms to the federal government’s open records law passed the U.S. Senate Monday, after being briefly blocked by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

Water commission finalizes recommendations

-

Members of a special state commission on Monday finalized most of their recommendations as they rush to meet a legislative deadline of Dec. 15 to submit their first report on drinking water safety reforms required by the...

Many Alpha miners to keep jobs

-

About 750 miners will continue working at eight Alpha Natural Resources strip mines and processing facilities in West Virginia that had been targeted by the company for potential closure in response to the continuing dow...

Blankenship seeks to delay trial

-

Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is asking a federal judge to delay his trial on criminal charges that he conspired to violate mine safety rules ...

OSHA investigating Tyler gas-well death

-

Federal officials are continuing to investigate the death last week of a contract employee at an Antero Resources natural gas operation in Tyler County.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigat...

Media outlets challenge Blankenship gag order

-

The Charleston Gazette and four other news organizations on Monday urged a federal judge to withdraw a gag order that has blocked access to court records in a criminal case filed against longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Bl...

Judge considering restrictions on Blankenship’s financial moves

-

A federal magistrate plans to consider proposals from prosecutors and defense lawyers for restricting longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s financial dealings while Blankenship is out o...

Blankenship pleads not guilty, released on $5 million bail

-

BECKLEY — Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal charges that he conspired to put coal production and profits ahead of miner safety at...

Blankenship asks to postpone arraignment, is denied

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge has turned down a request from longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to postpone his initial court appearance, scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Beckley.

U.S. Magis...

Blankenship’s hands-on management provides target for prosecutors

-

Every half-hour, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wanted a report on coal production at the longwall section of his company’s Upper Big Branch Mine.

Prosecutors say Blankenship insisted on specific details,...

Blankenship indictment could deter unsafe mining, experts say

-

An indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is a long way from a conviction, but mine safety experts and advocates say the landmark case charging Blankenship after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster sends a...

Blankenship arraignment set, gag order issued

-

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will make his first court appearance next week, and the judge in the case has issued a broad order that prohibits parties — and victims — from talking to reporters.<...

Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship indicted

-

Don Blankenship, the longtime chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was indicted Thursday on charges that he orchestrated the routine violation of key federal mine safety rules at the company’s Upper Big Branc...

DEP reaches new deal over Freedom Industries site

-

State regulators are proposing a new agreement with Freedom Industries that the bankrupt company hopes will pave the way for it to enter a “voluntary” toxic cleanup program, a move that could reduce the amo...

W.Va. leaders wary of Obama climate deal with China

-

For months, one of the major criticisms the coal industry and its political supporters offered of President Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants was that the administration was forcing t...

Kessler says “SCORE” will go on

-

Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said Wednesday that his effort to bring West Virginians together to find ways to diversify the economy of the state’s southern coalfields will continue, despite election ...

DEP left laboratory probe up to feds

-

Department of Environmental Protection officials were aware more than a year ago of a criminal investigation into a coal industry water quality laboratory in Raleigh County, but decided not to put the lab in question und...

Monongalia County miner killed

-

A Monongalia County man has become the fifth West Virginia coal miner killed on the job this year.

Raymond Scott Savage was struck by a rock while he was working underground at the Red Bone Mining Company’s ...

New testimony faults West Virginia American chemical spill planning

-

West Virginia American Water did not prudently plan for a possible toxic spill, despite knowing that the Freedom Industries chemical tank facility was located just upstream from its regional drinking-water intake, expert...

Coal water sampling plea postponed

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A plea hearing has been postponed in a second case involving falsification of Clean Water Act pollution monitoring data.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver delayed the “guilty ...

Tomblin names McCabe to Public Service Commission

-

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday announced that he had appointed retiring Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, to fill a vacant spot on the state Public Service Commission.

McCabe replaces Ryan Palmer, who left the commis...

Lawsuit alleges cover-up after 1968 Farmington No. 9 Mine disaster

-

Forty-six years ago this month, an explosion at Consolidation Coal Co.’s No. 9 Mine in Farmington killed...

Freedom: DEP deal could ease chemical cleanup

-

Freedom Industries said this week that it has agreed to a new deal with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection that could pave the way for it to get its Elk River facility into the state’s volunt...

Guilty plea expected in another fake water sample case

-

A McDowell County woman is scheduled to plead guilty Friday after being charged with falsifying water quality sampling data submitted to state regulators, in the second such case brought by federal prosecutors in the las...

Stone Energy to pay $177,500 in EPA deal

-

A Louisiana company will pay $177,500 to resolve environmental violations cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at two natural gas operations in West Virginia, the EPA announced Tuesday.

Stone Energy Co...

Coal water lab sues, says DEP barring its work

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Raleigh County laboratory where employees allegedly faked water samples for the coal industry has sued the state Departm...

Fracking near Marshall chemical plant on hold

-

A Houston company’s plans to hydraulically fracture natural gas wells near a Marshall County chemical plant are on hold, pending a full hearing before a local judge.

Late last week, Marshall County Circuit J...

Brody Mining ‘pattern of violations’ notice thrown out

-

A federal administrative law judge has thrown out a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration notice that cited Patriot Coal’s Brody Mining subsidiary for a “pattern of violations” under the agency&...

Despite board ruling, DEP won’t accept lab’s water data

-

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said Wednesday his agency will not accept pollution monitoring reports from a Raleigh County laboratory

Coal water lab asks pollution board for reprieve

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Environmental Quality Board is considering whether to temporarily allow a Raleigh County laboratory to continue operating, despite allegations by federal prosecutors of a conspiracy a...

Panel considers delay of water-safety plans

-

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of a new commission studying West Virginia’s drinking water systems are considering asking lawmakers to delay th...

Lack of surprise inspections helped lab cover up violations, prosecutor says

-

A coal industry laboratory in Raleigh County was able to cover up criminal water sampling violations because lab officials knew when Department of Environmental Protection inspectors planned to visit...

Marcellus expert says more scrutiny needed of fracking near Marshall chemical plant

-

One of the nation’s best-known experts on the Marcellus Shale concluded that more investigation is needed before a Houston firm is allowed to move forward with natural gas wells near the site of

DEP to require new mine water samples because of lab controversy

-

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said Friday that it will require new water quality data before it approves new permits for mining operators that used Appalachian Laboratories for sampling and ana...