Note: pictures are on the way.
PETTUS, W.Va.–A heavy sediment spill is ongoing at the mouth of the Little Marsh Fork in the Coal River Valley, coming from Massey Energy’s subsidiary Marfork Mining Co. Marfork’s operations include several deep mines, the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment and the Bee Tree Surface Mine.
Recall last month that a spill into the Gauley River was called in, and continued well past DEP’s visual confirmation of the spill. DEP changed the reasoning a few times, but eventually conceded that in fact, Appalachian Fuels was responsible for two water violations (WVDEP: here and here) from the pond that was shown in our posts about that spill, here and here.
Louis-Rosenberg spoke with Keith Porterfield of the DEP, “He said he’s going to try to make it out there tonight but it depends on road conditions.”
The only thing above the mouth of the Little Marsh Fork are Massey-controlled mining operations and roads, such as the Bee Tree Surface Mine, all surrounded by forested mountain.
“If it’s from Bee Tree then their sediment ditches aren’t working and they’re in violation of their permit,” Coal River Mountain Watch’s Vernon Haltom said. “DEP has let Massey violate with impunity for so long that we have no confidence that they will take any effective action to protect our streams and communities.”
The Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy gave Massey a 60-day notice in January of their intent to sue, alleging the company’s water violations increased after it settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“This just goes to show that the many people around here who’re concerned with Massey’s dangerous operations were correct in being concerned about the people who live downstream or near Massey’s operations,” Coal River Mountain Watch’s Judy Bonds said. “It also shows that the tree sitters were right in their concerns.”