Slurry dam construction integrity questioned - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Slurry dam construction integrity questioned

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    Calacino's in Beckley is home to Mountaineer football

    Calacino's in Beckley is home to Mountaineer football

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:40 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:40:42 GMT
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    The Mountaineers have thousands of fans, but Calacino's in Beckley is one local business that relies on them to keep their doors open.Jerseys, and posters fill the walls and Calacino's owner, Jerry Zaferatos , said in college football you cant count anyone out."I wouldn't have this business if I listened to people saying, you don't have a chance," Zaferatos said.Dominique Calicino opened the business back in the early 1930's and the owner says that he doesn't know where they would be without ...
  • One person injured after ATV accident in Fayette County

    One person injured after ATV accident in Fayette County

    Saturday, August 30 2014 4:37 AM EDT2014-08-30 08:37:47 GMT
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    Emergency crews were called to the scene of a ATV accident, just before 10 pm Friday.According to Fayette County 911 the ATV was struck by a vehicle along the 1900 block of Rt 60 Anstead area of Fayette County.One person was transported by helicopter, to a local hospital for treatment, The extent of those injuries or what caused the accident is not yet known at this time.The Fayette County Sheriff Department is investigating.
  • Intruder Kicks in Door at Apartment in Beckley

    Intruder Kicks in Door at Apartment in Beckley

    Friday, August 29 2014 11:27 PM EDT2014-08-30 03:27:05 GMT
    Beckley Police are searching for two suspects after a burglary at the Lewis Ritchie Apartments in Beckley around 10:00 Friday night (8/29). 
    Beckley Police are searching for two suspects after a burglary at the Lewis Ritchie Apartments in Beckley around 10:00 Friday night (8/29). 

A new report by federal surface mine regulators obtained by the Sludge Safety Project indicates there are some concern about the way West Virginia coal slurry dams are built.

The concerns indicated by the one-page executive summary of the Office of Surface Mining study, titled "Oversight Report of Compaction of Coal Mine Waste Slurry Impoundment Embankments Evaluation Year 2011," points out four different observations.

The findings indicated materials that compact only at a narrow range of moisture content, coal wastes arrive at the impoundment in a wet condition, operators typically add material in possible non-ideal weather conditions and compaction equipment used is designed for compaction.

"In most cases, the reported compaction equipment is one or more dozers," the report states. "Dozers are not designed to compact soil. The tracks are designed to allow the dozer to operate on loose ground."

The study was designed to test the ability of operators to "consistently able to be adequately compact the coarse refuse under conditions that would appear to be adverse." The materials are intended to settle and compact, failure to do so could threaten the integrity of the slurry dam.

According to the report, OSM engineers had observed consultants recording passing test results, though visual observations "indicate the material may not be adequately compacted."

"Results of the testing tend to indicate that the coarse refuse is not consistently being compacted in accordance with approved specifications," the report states. "Failing field density tests occurred at all seven of the sites investigated."

According to the report, of the 73 field density tests spread over seven sites, only 16 tests passed.

"These results indicate the quality control methods used during embankment construction may not be achieving the desired results," the report states.

According to the Associated Press, an OSM representative said there is no indication there has been any sign of imminent danger of failure at any of the sites.

The failure of coal slurry dams can have devastating results. The failure of a dam filled with the liquid coal wastes sent more than 300 million gallons of slurry into in Martin County, Ky. in October 2000.

The owner of that pond, Massey Energy, spent millions trying to restore the health of the two Tug Fork River tributaries.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing the information, but has not yet responded to comment. A group of citizens who obtained the document are having a press conference Thursday morning.