Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Violations issued in black water spills
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 21, 2005) – The Kentucky Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement (DMRE) has cited a coal company for alleged violations that resulted in a 7-mile-long “black water” spill in the Red Bird River in Clay County. In separate incidents, three other coal companies also have been cited for violating water-quality standards in the last week.
The spill that fouled the Red Bird River occurred July 13, 2005 at the Chas Coal mining complex on Little Red Bird Creek. Eight days earlier, a state inspector had spotted a leak in a slurry line close to a sediment pond and advised the company to have it repaired. But no repair was made, and a seal failed. The sediment pond quickly overflowed.
Chas Coal was cited for noncompliance with standards for sediment control, effluent limitation, water quality and method of operation, and with failure to notify the division. The company also was ordered to immediately act to cease the discharge as an “imminent danger.” Abatement requirements include:
- Installation of silt fencing and straw bales to filter water leaving the pond.
- Diversion of surface runoff away from the pond.
- Pumping of slurry from the pond back to a refuse impoundment or removal by mechanical means to re-establish the approved sediment holding capacity of the pond.
The Chas Coal incident was one of a series of spills encountered by DMRE personnel since last week.
On July 14, the DMRE Pikeville office received a complaint of black water on the Rob Fork of Caney Creek in Pike County. Inspectors traced a gray discharge to a CAM-KY LLC surface mine, refuse fill and coal preparation plant. The company was cited for noncompliance with water quality standards and for exceeding effluent limits at a pipeline.
On that same day, the state’s Environmental Response Team notified DMRE of a citizen complaint of black water in the vicinity of Harlan Cumberland Coal. Water samples were taken, but no black water was observed. A pond at the site appeared to be discharging substandard water – grayish brown, not black – and the company was cited for noncompliance with water quality standards.
A fourth incident occurred July 15 at Cheyenne Resources in Perry County. Heavy rain caused erosion of an improperly seeded hollow fill, causing the associated sediment pond in the Montgomery Creek watershed to fill up and overflow. DMRE issued a noncompliance notice for revegetation of the hollow fill and for failure to maintain the pond at proper sediment holding capacity. By the time DMRE inspectors arrived, the discharge was running clear. The Division is awaiting water analysis from the division of Water before taking further enforcement action.
In each case, civil penalties are to be determined after violations are abated.