Update on recovery at CONSOL impoundment

December 7, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

WVDEP photo

Updates just came in from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and CONSOL Energy on their efforts to recovery the body of a United Mine Workers miner missing since last Friday following the collapse of a coal-waste embankment at the company’s Robinson Run mining complex in Harrison County. Among other things, it appears MSHA has approved CONSOL’s proposal to resume preparation plant operations — which includes pumping slurry into the impoundment, even before the body is recovered.

Here’s the MSHA update:

MSHA has modified the k-order to restart the prep plant, but as of Thursday evening, no material had been pumped to the slurry pond.

The diving plan has been approved by MSHA and the state.

A forensics dog was brought onto the property last night and gave a positive reaction, indicating that the recovery team is working in the right location.

The flotilla consists of eight barges. A 43-ton oscillating crane has been loaded onto and secured to the flotilla. It will be positioned with a 4-foot diameter pipe above the bulldozer.

The pipe will be used to pump fresh water down to push the sediment away from the dozer. The first dive will be attempted after the water has replaced the slurry in the pipe to the point where there is visibility.

The first dive will be attempted around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

 Now, my understanding is that the MSHA-approved body recovery plan calls for the slurry to be pumped into the impoundment on the far side of the site from where the accident occurred, on the other side of the boom show in this diagram, which CONSOL distributed as part of its no-questions media briefing earlier this week. Here’s the CONSOL update issued a few minutes ago:

CONSOL Energy submitted the short and long term recovery plans to state and federal regulatory agencies on Wednesday evening and received approval to move ahead with the pipe dive recovery plan late Thursday evening. Preparations for that effort continue and we anticipate we will begin the pipe dive process and pipe installation this weekend. CONSOL Energy also received approval to resume use of the slurry pond for operation of the longwall machine and preparation plant. Again, the decision to resume longwall and preparation plant operations at our Robinson Run mine will not interfere with the impending recovery efforts.

2 Responses to “Update on recovery at CONSOL impoundment”

  1. Vernon says:

    Sorry if I haven’t paid sufficient attention to the technical details of this plan, but what is a “boom curtain?” Is it something that’s supposed to be strong enough and big enough to confine the added slurry to one end of the lake, and not raise the level elsewhere? Isn’t this rush to produce suspected as the root cause of this disaster?

  2. BOUTTIME says:

    Vernon .. The boom will contain most of the fines but the water level will rise in the entire impoundment when slurry us pumped into it. Yes the rush for production to complete the dike sounds like all safety precautions may not have been taken & disaster struck. Yes CONSOL is in a rush to get back into full coal production & may very well be pumping sludge into the impoundment where the dead miner is entombed … Business as usual, how reprehensible!

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