Kentucky Governor Declares State of Emergency After Coal Sludge Spill

Big Sandy River, Kentucky. Seventy miles of waterways filled with 210 million gallons of coal mine sludge headed for Ohio River after a slurry impoundment broke on October 11.  Photograph courtesy Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.
Big Sandy River, Kentucky. Seventy miles of waterways filled with 210 million gallons of coal mine sludge headed for Ohio River after a slurry impoundment broke on October 11. Photograph courtesy Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.

October 22, 2000 Frankfort, Kentucky - Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton visited the Martin County site near Inez where an estimated 210 million gallons of coal mine sludge collapsed into the Big Sandy and Cold Water Branches of Wolf Creek. Public water supplies in the town of Louisa and Martin County District Number One were immediately polluted. On October 16, Governor Patton declared a State of Emergency for ten counties "in the wake of last Wednesday's failure of a Martin County coal slurry impoundment. ...The declaration covers the counties of Boyd, Bracken, Carter, Fleming, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Martin, Mason and Robertson, all lying within the Big Sandy and Ohio River watersheds." By October 22, at least seventy miles of waterways were filled with the cement-like sludge.

 

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