Murray Energy Turns Captina Creek Into Coal Sludge River in Ohio
Posted October 3, 2010
What is it with dirty energy companies spilling pollution into our nation’s waters this year? First it was BP’s massive disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, a few months ago an Enbridge pipeline carrying tar sands oil burst, spilling nearly a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, and more recently a pipeline burst in Romeoville, Illinois spilled 250,000 gallons of oil. And now, in Ohio, Murray Energy’s American Century Mine has leaked large quantities of coal mine slurry into Captina Creek, which is an exceptionally high quality water that as the last breeding population in Ohio of the especially cool creature known as the Eastern Hellbender Salamander.
Our friends at the Sierra Club were on the scene and filmed the footage below showing the extent of the spill, including a large field covered in coal sludge and Captina Creek turned black for miles:
Reports so far suggest that Ohio EPA and the Ohio DNR have done a good job at responding to the Murray Energy spill quickly and effectively. As we begin to think about the lessons learned from this spill, however, there are three important points to keep in mind:
1. Murray Energy Is a Repeat Offender – Today’s spill is just another in a series of problems at Murray’s American Century and Powhatan No. 6 coal mines in Belmont County. Since 2000, Ohio EPA has issued at least four violation notices to Murray for leaks from the coal slurry impoundment for these mines. One such spill lasted three days and turned 22 miles of Captina Creek black, while another spill lasted two days and impacted 20 miles of Captina Creek. Given this history, it is important that Ohio EPA and Ohio DNR fully enforce the law and aggressively pursue all available and appropriate mitigation, restoration, and penalty actions against Murray.
2. Murray Energy Should Not Be Allowed to Create a Second Coal Slurry Impoundment: Murray Energy currently has pending before Ohio EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit applications to bury 5.6 miles of Casey Run, a high quality headwater tributary to Captina Creek, in order to make a second coal slurry impoundment for its mines. Ohio EPA rejected the proposal in 2008, but Murray Energy came back to the agency with a slightly modified proposal. Today’s spill confirms that Ohio EPA should stand firm and reject the request once again.
3. We Need To Move Away From Dirty Energy Sources: The Murray Energy spill today illustrates once again the significant impacts that we experience from our society’s over-reliance on dirty energy sources such as coal. This spill should be a clarion call for why Ohio and the U.S. should pursue energy efficiency and cleaner energy alternatives that would create jobs and minimize environmental impacts, rather than continuing to rely on dirty energy.
Coal mining companies should not be allowed to turn exceptionally high quality waters such as Captina Creek into rivers of flowing coal sludge. Let’s make sure that Murray Energy is required to clean up its mess and not allowed to create a second impoundment, and that we move toward cleaner energy alternatives as we move forward.
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