Spills land Massey in hot water

TWO Kentucky coal companies, both subsidiaries of Massey Energy, have been cited and now face fines as a result of black water spills that contaminated streams in an area of rural Kentucky.

Donna Schmidt

Sidney Coal and Long Fork Mining, both owned by the Richmond, Virginia-based coal producing giant, were given citations by the Kentucky Division of Water after black water escaped into Big Creek and one of its tributaries.

Kentucky Division of Water spokeswoman Maleva Chamberlain said the Sidney Coal spill, which occurred July 12, affected three miles of Big Creek and killed fish. The tributary was affected February 28, June 29, and July 7 by a similar spill from the Long Fork operation.

In both cases, the companies have been charged with failing to report a spill, degrading the stream and pollution discharge permit violations. Sidney Coal was also cited for creating an environmental emergency.

While the agency said there had been no significant influx in such spills, it had been cracking down on the involved coal operations when they happened and issuing press releases at the same time it issued citations. The spills are often caused by dam breaks or overflows and often triggered by large amounts of rain.