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Coal Impoundment Spill Details

Date and Owner
Spill Date: Nov 26, 1996
Parent Company: Consolidation Coal Company
Subsidiary: Buchanan No. 1 Mine
Plant: Buchanon Mine Slurry Impoundment

River System: Big Sandy River
Watershed: Levisa Fork
Tributary: Garden Creek and North Branch
Miles of Streams Impacted: 30
State: VA
County: Buchanan
Town: Oakwood

Spill Volume: 4000000
Spill Magnitude: 4
Lives Lost: 0
Fish Kill: 18.0

About the Spill
Spill Type: Blackwater
Cause: SE - piping
Description: After the impoundment was constructed in 1984, another company mining underground in the adjacent drainage area apparently intersected the historic auger mine workings, which provided a conduit for the coal slurry. Coal refuse and slurry from the impoundment broke into an abandoned mine and discharged about 1,000 gpm (peak) through two portals into the North Branch Hollow of Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River.

Information Sources
Source: Report To Congress
Source Date: 2003
Reference: Mine Safety and Health Administration, and Office of Surface Mining. August 15, 2003. Report to Congress: Response to Recommendations in the National Research Council's Report: Coal Waste Impoundments: Risks, Responses, and Alternatives. Chapter II, pp.5-9 Impoundment Breakthrough Histories: Circumstances and Lessons, in Appendix D, Guidelines for Evaluating the Potential for Breakthroughs from Impoundments into Mine Workings and Breakthrough Prevention Measures.

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