Cleanup continues after Kanawha County slurry spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Cleanup efforts continued Tuesday night along Fields Creek in eastern Kanawha County following a coal slurry spill at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle prep plant near Winifrede.

In addition to the cleanup, state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said the investigation into the cause of the spill, which involved as much as 100,000 gallons of slurry, was also ongoing.

“We’ll continue to get more facts and more information,” Huffman said at the State Capitol.

The slurry blackened miles Fields Creek, a tributary for the Kanawha River, after it was first detected in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Reports indicated the spill was reported to state officials before 8 a.m., more than two hours after the line was disconnected to stop the slurry flow once the problem was discovered.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection said the spill started with a broken valve in the line carrying the slurry from the prep plant to a disposal site.

Containment measures were implemented on Fields Creek.

Dale Petry, director of Kanawha County Emergency Services, confirmed some of that slurry did make it to the Kanawha River.

“It traveled down the river about 6/10 of a mile,” Petry confirmed.  “I’m sure there’s been some particles that’s went on further down the river, but they could no longer be seen after approximately 6/10 of a mile.”

He said DuPont and Dow Chemical, which operate water intakes downriver from the spill site, were notified of the slurry spill.  No other water intakes, Petry said, were in danger.

Coal slurry, a solid and liquid waste, is a by-product of the coal mining and preparation process.

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