FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 22, 2005) Black water spills from coal-related activities in Kentucky can be minimized if the mining industry implements best management practices (BMPs) and other recommendations contained in a task force report released today by Governor Ernie Fletcher.
Governor Fletcher released the report prepared by the seven-member Black Water Task Force that met under the direction of LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC). Black water spills can occur as a result of discharges from coal impoundments, sediment ponds, roads or other coal mining-related activities.
The task force, created at the request of Governor Fletcher in January 2004, prepared BMPs and other recommendations to reduce the number and severity of spills in the state.
“The leaders of environmental and coal organizations, universities and state agencies worked cooperatively in developing these recommendations that will minimize the impacts caused by black water spills,” Governor Fletcher stated.
“As we implement our comprehensive state energy strategy, these relationships will prove invaluable as we continue to grow our economy and protect and maintain our commitment to environmental quality.”
In meeting over the course of a year, the task force toured and examined coal preparation plants and slurry impoundments, and gathered and reviewed data on historic trends of water quality violations, effects of spills on stream ecology and potential toxicity of black water from heavy metals and organic compounds.
“The goal of the Black Water Task Force was the significant reduction or elimination of black water spills in Kentucky,” said Bill K. Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association and a task force member. “Through dialogue, education, and a spirit of compromise, the task force members developed progressive recommendations to achieve this goal. Secretary Wilcher is to be commended for her aggressive resolve to address this problem.”
"I believe that through the recommendations, we will work to accomplish our goal of reducing black water incidents in the state," said Judy Petersen, director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance and a task force member. "I am so pleased that the task force members could reach a consensus on the recommendations and best management practices in the report."
Members of the task force, in addition to Wilcher, Caylor and Petersen were Don Bowles, Charolais Coal; Dr. Lindell Ormsbee, Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute and Environmental Quality Commission; Tom FitzGerald, Kentucky Resources Council; and Bruce Short, Argus Energy.
Recommendations in the report include:
- Once per month, the entire pipeline or pipeline route where the pipe is buried shall be visually inspected for leaks, ground movement, pipe gouges or other distress.
- Buried pipelines shall be clearly marked on the surface with warning signs. Equipment operators should be advised concerning buried lines before excavating near buried lines. Pipelines shall be inspected for wear annually using ultrasonic methods.
- Operators may consider installing larger diameter fittings at directional changes in order to reduce velocities and wear on pipes and high stress points, such as elbows.
- The maintenance of sediment ponds shall be supervised by company management to prevent spills or damage to decant systems. Clean out operations for sediment ponds should not be conducted during significant rainfall events.
- Through careful analysis, mine operators shall, on their coal waste disposal permits, clearly identify the type and location of underground workings.
- Alternatives to traditional coal waste disposal methods should be considered before or at the time of permitting. Underground injection of coal slurry and dry coal processing technology are two potential alternatives.
- In locating or expanding a coal waste impoundment, the possibility of impoundment pool failure into underground mine works should be thoroughly assessed.