Coal Tattoo

WVDEP finds problems with coal-ash dams


The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has just issued a new report outlining the findings of a review of the state’s coal-ash impoundments.

The entire report is posted here on WVDEP’s Web site. I’m still reading, but here are a couple of highlights:

— WVDEP concluded that most impoundments met the state’s dam safety rule requirements for stability.

— At least one major site, the Conner Run Dam in Marshall County (see graphic above) “has the unusual issue of major seepage from the reservoir through a hillside abutment.”

— Through this review, WVDEP discovered two American Electric Power dams in Mason County (called the Little Broad Run dams) that are not designed or constructed to comply with state dam safety rules.

— Based on National Inventory of Dams criteria, of the 20 fly-ash dams in West Virginia, eight are in satisfactory condition, seven are in fair condition, three are in poor condition and two are in unsatisfactory condition.

Brian Long, coordinator of WVDEP’s dam safety program, said:

We were able to identify stability issues along some embankment slopes, but largely the problems we noted involved control of animals and vegetation. 

The agency is requiring the owners to address any issues found at their sites to bring them into satisfactory condition. In addition, we issued an administrative order to AEP for the two dams that were discovered during the DEP inspection to compel compliance with current dam safety standards.

Gazette readers may recall that WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman ordered this review back in January, after we reported that  most of the coal-ash dams in West Virginia had not been examined by a state inspector for at least five years.