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Facts About Impoundments
  • On Oct. 11, 2000, Martin County Coal Corp.'s coal waste impoundment broke through and released 250 million gallons of slurry in Inez, Ky., burying parts of the community under 7 feet of coal sludge.
  • One of the objectives of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 was to establish mandatory standards to protect the lives of miners and prevent injuries.
  • Coal is the largest single source of fuel for domestic energy production.
  • As of August 2001, the Mine Safety and Health Administration oversees more than 700 active, freshwater and slurry impoundments in the United States.
  • Most coal waste impoundments in the United States are in the East, predominantly in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia.
  • An active impoundment is in operation and receiving slurry. An inactive site is not in operation but not closed permanently. An abandoned impoundment is closed and not in operation.
  • The Mine Safety and Health Administration bases its hazard potential ranking system on height of the embankment, the volume of material impounded and the downstream effects of an impoundment failure.
  • All coal companies that operate a coal-refuse impoundment are required to develop emergency response and evacuation plans for their impoundments.
  • The commercial coal industry began to grow with the arrival of the railroads in coalfields. Construction of the major rail lines in West Virginia was completed in 1883, and coal production totaled nearly 3 million tons.
  • John Peter Salley discovered coal in 1742 in an area that is now West Virginia.
  • The first commercial coal mine was opened near Wheeling in 1810 by Conrad Cotts.
  • West Virginia surpassed Pennsylvania in 1931 as the leading producer of bituminous coal.
  • Total coal production in West Virginia reached its peak — 181,914,000 tons — in 1997.
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 Past Spills Information
Image of an arrow. Buffalo Creek Flood
Image of an arrow. Martin County Flood
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