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Winifrede Community Worried About Slurry Spill Into Fields Creek

Reported: Feb. 11, 2014 10:01 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 11, 2014 6:31 PM EST
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WINIFREDE, W.Va. (Wes Armstead, Jeff Morris, Katelyn Sykes) -- West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection inspectors were sampling the water Tuesday along several locations of an Eastern Kanawha County creek to determine how much was material was released in a slurry spill.

The coal slurry spill occurred at the Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant near Winifrede, according to a news release from the DEP. The DEP initially said the company reported the facility utilizes a frothing chemical that contains MCHM. Later at an afternoon news conference, DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman said the chemical did not contain MCHM, the same chemical that leaked into the Kanawha River and led to a massive water crisis.

The spill occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, sending an unknown amount into Fields Creek. Workers at the plant shut down slurry pumps when the leak was discovered, the DEP said.

Containment measures are in place along Fields Creek from the plant to its confluence with the Kanawha River, but some of the slurry reached the river. The DEP said there are no public water intakes immediately downstream from the spill site.

Meanwhile, people living in this area are speaking out about the spill and are concerned about the effects.

"I wonder what it will do to your health, breathing it in," said Brad Chittenden, who lives in Winifrede. "I know like last summer, there's fish in everything in there and I wonder what it'll do to the fish."

Chittenden also said he could smell a licorice scent in the air on Sunday after his daughter alerted him.

West Virginia American Water released a statement saying its Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant will not be affected by the coal slurry leak.




WINIFREDE, W.Va. (Wes Armstead, Jeff Morris) -- West Virgina Department of Environmental Protection inspectors were at the scene of a slurry line rupture in Eastern Kanawha County.

West Virginia American Water released a statement saying its Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant will not be affected by the coal slurry leak.

DEP spokesman Tom Aluise said the rupture occurred between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Kanawha Eagle prep plant in Winifrede. The leak has been stopped.

Fields Creek, which flows into the Kanawha River, was affected by the rupture, and crews were trying to contain the slurry water to the mouth of the creek. It was unclear how much was spilled.

The company reported the rupture at 7:42 a.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, water company officials said the coal slurry leak reported Tuesday morning in a tributary of the Kanawha River is not anticipated to have an impact on their treatment plant on the Elk River, which is one mile above where the Elk River joins the Kanawha River.

"Our employees are working on behalf of our customers with local and state officials to gather additional information," the statement from the water company said. "We have been in contact with the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, which concurs that they do not anticipate any impact to our plant on the Elk River.



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