Initially, Dale Petry, director of emergency services for Kanawha County, said that an eight-inch slurry line between the preparation plant and the company's refuse impoundment ruptured, sending an underdetermined amount of coal waste into the creek before the flow was stopped.Whooooops!
Later, DEP officials said they had determined that the spill was caused by a malfunction of a valve inside the slurry line carrying material from the preparation plant to a separate disposal site, not to an impoundment.
...There were also conflicting reports about when the incident occurred and when it was reported to the state.
Petry said that the incident occurred at about 6:15 a.m., and the company reported it to the state at 7:12 a.m. He said the incident should have been reported more promptly to local officials.
"I have problems with that," Petry said. "I need to know about it a little bit sooner."
The Patriot Coal (I know) facility "uses the chemical Crude MCHM in its coal-cleaning process," for which DEP officials are testing, and coal slurry "contains a variety of substances that could be more toxic than Crude MCHM, including other coal-cleaning chemicals and various metals."
Laura Jordan, a spokeswoman for West Virginia American Water, issued a statement to reassure the public that the slurry spill would not impact the company's regional drinking water plant in Charleston -- which is located about a mile upstream from where the Elk River empties into the Kanawha.I would say that's reassuring, except, you know.
Clean coal, y'all.