PEYTONA, W.Va. – An Imminent Harm Cessation Order remains in effect at the Admiral Processing operation near Peytona after a coal slurry leak was reported there March 23.
At this time, all outfalls from the plant have been stopped and stockpiled coal is being moved out of the area to facilitate site clean up. Water containing coal slurry is being pumped from containment ponds to slurry ponds.
Inspectors with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR) believe the slurry leaked from a hole ½ inch wide in a 90 degree elbow joint in a pipe and the hole had a maximum flow of 30 gallons per minute. The slurry leaked for approximately three hours. The amount of coal slurry leaked into a containment pond and then into Crooked Run is still uncertain.
DMR inspectors say the facility had an alarm system on the site that was to alert them if pressure significantly dropped in the pipe, indicating leaking slurry. But it appears the amount that was leaking was not large enough to trigger the alarm.
Crooked Run flows into Drawdy Creek, which in turn flows into the Coal River. A full chemical and biological assessment is being conducted on Drawdy Creek. Additional enforcement action against Admiral Processing, which is an Alpha Natural Resources affiliate, is possible pending the result of the biological assessment.
DMR inspectors are also investigating a report of a second coal slurry leak at the site at approximately 5:45 p.m., when contaminated water was being pumped out of Crooked Run. A pump backfilled because of a valve fail, causing a second release. The amount of coal slurry leaked in the second incident is under investigation.
The nearest public water system is Lincoln County PSD, which has an intake approximately 17 miles downstream on the Coal River. St. Albans also has an intake on the Coal River, approximately 35 miles downstream. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (BPH) continues to coordinate with the water utilities.
UPDATE: The Imminent Harm Cessation Order has been modified to a Notice of Violation.