Coal Tattoo

Water lawsuit update: Blankenship and coal slurry

As jury selection gets underway this week in the big coal slurry case brought against Massey Energy by the residents of the Seth and Prenter communities, we revisited an early slurry case with this story in Sunday’s Gazette-Mail, reporting:

In the weeks before last year’s settlement of a major water pollution case, lawyers for Mingo County residents were saying they’d unearthed records indicating Massey Energy tried to cover up the extent of its underground pumping of coal-slurry waste.

Among the more interesting tidbits:

Lawyers for the residents also filed court records they argued showed then-Massey CEO Don Blankenship personally pushed for the slurry injection to save $55,000 in waste-impoundment construction costs.

Erkan Esmer, a one-time engineering consultant for Massey at its Rawl Sales & Processing Co. operations, testified about Blankenship’s slurry injection decision in a legal deposition in the case, brought by hundreds of residents who allege slurry polluted their drinking water.

“Well, I think Don thought that $55,000 was too much to spend and complained about that,” Esmer said in a sworn statement taken during the litigation.