The coal power industry has dumped a lot of toxic crap into yet another river. This latest incident is not to be confused with the spill of toxic coal-cleaning chemicals that poisoned a West Virginia river last month and left 300,000 people without drinking water. Nor is it to be confused with a huge coal-ash spill from a retired power plant in North Carolina earlier this month.
No, this is a whole new spill.
Patriot Coal accidentally let more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry loose from a coal processing facility in West Virginia. Six miles of Fields Creek, which flows into the Kanawha River, was blackened by the slurry spill. The slurry contained fine particles of processed coal, which includes heavy metals, and coal-cleaning chemicals.
"When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out," said Randy Huffman, head of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River." But officials say drinking water has not been affected, at least not yet.