BREAKING: New Coal Disaster In West Virginia
Dear Good People of West Virginia: “Freedom” and “Patriot” do not mean what you think they do.
We have breaking news today of a new Big Coal disaster in the offing in The Mountain State.
Just days after the Dan River coal ash spill affecting North Carolina and Virginia, and mere weeks after West Virginia’s own Freedom Industries Elk River chemical debacle (which cost the citizens of that state over $19 million each day the “do not use” water order was in effect) – here we have another coal behemoth, Patriot Coal, scurrying to “inform” the public about a new disaster.
And already, conflicting reports and no-big-deals are being slung.
The incident, which led to a yet unknown amount of coal slurry spilling into Fields Creek, occurred at approximately 6:15AM EST today at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation, just southeast of Charleston (site of the Elk River spill). The Kanawha Eagle site is home to not only a coal prep plant, but is also a slurry impound.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) crews were on scene, taking water samples at the spill site and also downstream, and, were trying to contain it with booms, all in hope of avoiding a complete catastrophe, likely if the spill is not confined to Fields Creek and ends up in the Kanawha River.
State emergency officials confirmed that the spill had already blackened Fields Creek, however, and was fast approaching the intersection where the creek merges with the Kanawha.
A spokesman for the state DEP, Tom Aluise, cautioned that he did not yet have numbers as to how much slurry had emptied into the creek, but characterized the incident as “a significant spill”.
Conversely, the director of West Virginia’s Military Affairs and Public Safety (part of its Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department), Jimmy Gianato, was quoted as such:
“I don’t think there’s really anything to it….It turned out to be much of nothing.”
There are also early discrepancies as to the reporting of the incident vis a vis when it occurred and when it was actually reported by Patriot Coal to the state.
On their website, Patriot Coal, touts itself as an environmental steward. In fact, there is an entire page dedicated to the scores of awards bestowed upon Patriot each year for their efforts in helping to do right by Mother Earth.
The problem? Each and every “award” was issued by the West Virginia Coal Association. This is akin to the NRA giving an annual award to Remington for their commitment to gun safety.
More to come on this breaking story as developments unfold.
If you are in West Virginia, you are encouraged to contact one of the following agencies for more information:
WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Contact here. As of the time of publication, the DEP site has yet to post anything about this spill or otherwise provide easily accessible information to West Virginians.
WV Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Response (within the DEP). Contact here.
This spill occurred within the Second Congressional District, represented by Shelly Moore Capito. Congresswoman Capito may be contacted here.
UPDATE (5:20PM EST): CONFIRMED – over 100,000 gallons have tarnished nearly six miles of river (via EarthJustice). Still no word from the company responsible, Patriot Coal.
featured image credit: Kenny Kemp, West Virginia Gazette