Local community suffering from black creek water

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NAOMA, WV (WVNS) — For many in the more rural parts of the state, any source of running water is essential, and there are those in a small area in Raleigh County who are concerned about a creek used by many.

Carla Pettry lives in Horsecreek, a hollow inside of the town of Naoma in Raleigh County. She said it was an ordinary day until she came across a sight that became all too familiar.

“My husband was walking across the bridge to check the mail and he told me to come and look at it, and it was jet black,” said Pettry.

Pettry has lived in the area her entire life, and blackened water is something she is used to seeing. She lives down stream from the Horsecreek Eagle Mine. She is used to having discolored water, but it has never been as bad as it was on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

“My grandbabies, they play in this in the summertime and now it’s just, I mean, you can smell diesel real strong in it,” said Pettry.

Pettry said she, along with other concerned people in the area, continue to bring this problem up to the owners of the mine and several environmental organizations, but she said by the time someone comes down to check it, the water clears up.

Ernest Thompson decided to start collecting samples of the water. He said just because the color goes away, does not mean the dangerous chemicals used to treat the coal do.

“It sets up in the sediments in the gravels in the dirt under the rocks,” said Thompson.

Thompson said there are people in the community who use the creek everyday, to fill their wells, feed their livestock, and he knows there are those in the surrounding counties who use it as well.

“They are being fed with this creek right here,” said Thompson.

Those who live around the creek want something to be done soon, and they feel as though no one is listening to them. They say they are still friends of coal, but they want coal to be friendlier to them.

“We don’t wanna see nobody lose their job, but it can be done better than sending it down on us,” said Pettry.

59News reached out to Alpha Metallurgical Resources and was given this statement:

“As soon as we became aware of the water issue near our Horse Creek Eagle operation, we acted immediately to address the problem. As always, we remain committed to operating safely and responsibly and will continue working in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection to mitigate the situation.”

Alpha Metallurgical Resources

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