A coal slurry spill occurred in a tributary of West Virginia's Kanawha River on Tuesday.
The slurry spilled into Fields Creek from the Kanawha Eagle Preparation Plant owned by Patriot Coal located near Winifrede, W.Va., sometime between midnight Monday and 5:30 a.m. when a slurry line ruptured, The Associated Press reported
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The coal slurry is said to contain the organic compound 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, a byproduct of un-burnable parts of the rock that cannot be dissolved in water and if ingested by a person can cause nausea, vomiting, itchiness, rashes, and diarrhea.
According to West Virginia American Water, which serves more than 580,000 people with drinking water in more than 280 communities in the surrounding area, it does not expect the slurry spill to affect its treatment plant on the Elk River.
"Our employees are working on behalf of our customers with local and state officials to gather additional information," West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan said in a statement. "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."
An alarm that was supposed to have gone off at first signs of a spill apparently failed to work on Tuesday, WSAZ News Channel 3 reported
"There's a system in place to give warning if a valve or something failed, and apparently it didn't work, and I don't have all the answers to that," Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman told WSAZ. "Three hours of it running before anyone knew to shut it off is unacceptable."
As of late Tuesday crews were still working to contain the spill, according to the AP. A Patriot Coal spokesman did not have an immediate comment on the spill.
The spill comes just days after another coal plant in Eden, N.C., leaked some 82,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River
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