OMAR, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation (AML) has determined that water flooding the yards and basements of residents in Logan County is not from a nearby abandoned mine site.
The agency has concluded, based on water quality analysis and two rounds of dye testing conducted over the last four years, that the flooding experienced by Omar residents after precipitation events is most likely the result of improper drainage in that area.
The testing conducted in this area involved inserting brightly colored dye into known mine discharge and setting absorbent charcoal traps to determine where the dyed water ended up and how long it took to get there.
The most recent round of dye testing, conducted from April 13 to April 20, involved five locations in the Omar area and one blind test sample. Three traps were set at each location. Heavy rainfall resulted in traps at one location at Island Creek above Omar being lost. Other traps were set in residents’ back yards, in a basement, and in a boggy area next to Island Creek. Another location was tested with one trap the day after the dye was inserted into the mine drainage to see how much of the dye remained in the channel known to carry mine discharge.
Not counting the three blind test sample traps, there were 13 traps tested for the presence of dye. In all but one of the traps laboratory analysis was reported as non-detect. The laboratory method detection limit was one part per billion (ppb).
The only positive result, at one ppb, was a trap that was placed in the basement of a home along Route 44 and allowed to soak for one week. Such a small presence of dye in one sample, however, is not sufficient to show impact from mine drainage.
In accordance with the Surface Mining Control Reclamation Act of 1977, AML cannot spend money remediating problems that are not a direct result of legacy coal mining. However, AML does plan to maintain the mine seals and all drainage control structures that were installed as part of the Omar complex project in the mid-1990s. Those drainage control structures include grouted channels and an underground conveyance pipe that runs beneath Route 44 and between two homes.
DEP conducted comparative water quality analysis in the Omar area in 2011 and a private contractor conducted dye testing in 2013. The results were similar to those from this most recent round of testing, which had been requested by residents who had contacted the DEP’s Environmental Advocate’s Office.