WVDEP Modifies Patriot Coal Cessation Order

The state agency is allowing Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant to begin testing new control measures put in place after a Feb. 11 slurry spill.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced Feb. 19 that it has modified the Imminent Harm Cessation Order issued to Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant following a Feb. 11 spill of about 108,000 gallons of slurry last week’s slurry into Fields Creek, a tributary of the Kanawha River. The order had halted work at the plant until the company eliminated the potential for further pollution spill; it has been modified to a Notice of Violation.

WVDEP is allowing Kanawha Eagle to begin testing new control measures the company has put in place as a result of the spill. They include two external flow meters on the slurry line that are tied into the operator’s control room and remote cameras on the line that provide a live video feed to the control room. This equipment has alarm capabilities and an automatic shut-off if a malfunction occurs in the system.

The agency reports this spill affected roughly 6 miles of Fields Creek. "Sampling data reported to the WVDEP by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission indicated no changes in water quality in testing conducted from Saturday, Feb. 15, through Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Huntington's intake, the closest surface water public intake downstream of the spill site. And WVDEP sampling conducted Feb. 13 downstream in the Kanawha River shows all parameters at acceptable levels for both warm water fisheries and public water supplies. Water tested within the impacted reach of Fields Creek on Feb. 13 also is at acceptable levels, with the exception of slightly elevated levels of aluminum, which can be attributed to materials being used in the remediation process. Sampling data from Feb. 11 also shows non-detect levels of the coal-cleaning chemical MCHM, which the company said it phased out in mid-January," according to the WVDEP news release, which said the slurry spill remains under investigation.

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