Buffalo Creek Disaster 45 years ago

BUFFALO CREEK, W.Va — Sunday marked the 45th anniversary of the deadly Buffalo Creek disaster in Logan County.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of coal slurry flooded more than a dozen coalfield communities.

On Feb. 26, 1972, a Pittston Coal owned coal slurry dam broke loose at the head of Buffalo Creek causing 132-million gallons of slurry to flood more than a dozen small communities.

Residents had little if any warning to get to a safe place. The flood claimed 125 lives,  destroyed more than 500 houses, 44 mobile homes and left more than 4,000 people homeless.

Pittston called the dam break an “act of God” but investigators determined the dam had been poorly constructed. The state’s investigation into the disaster was filled with controversy. The state sued the company for $100 million but then Gov. Arch Moore agreed to a $1 million settlement before leaving office in 1977.

Several other lawsuits from survivors against Pittston settled out of court.

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