In this Oct. 16, 2000 photo, 250-million gallons of coal slurry floods Coldwater Fork, which was spilled after the bottom fell from a 72-acre retention pond upstream several days earlier in Martin County, near Inez, Ky., flooding 28 miles of two streams. The Martin County spill prompted the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to stiffen its sludge pond review process with closer attention paid to underground mining issues, spokeswoman Amy Louviere said in a statement, The Associated Press reported Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Lexington Herald-Leader, David Stephenson)
The Associated Press did a fairly long story remembering the coal-slurry spill at Massey Energy’s Martin County Coal operations, which occurred 10 years ago today. Reporter Dylan Lovan tied the disaster to the ongoing tragedy in Hungary, where a flood of toxic mud from an aluminum waste impoundment has killed at least eight people, injured hundreds more and forced hundreds from their homes:
In parts of eastern Kentucky, the pictures coming out of Hungary of the red sludge that roared from a factory’s reservoir, downstream into the Danube River, are all too reminiscent of what happened a decade ago this week.
A layer of dark goo still sits under a creekbed on Glenn Cornette’s land, the leftovers from when a coal company’s sprawling slurry pond burst, blackening 100 miles of waterways and polluting the water supply of more than a dozen communities before the stuff reached the Ohio River.
A torrent as wide as a football field and 6 feet deep covered Cornette’s property in Martin County, near the West Virginia line and about 175 miles east of Louisville. It killed all manner of plants and cut off his access to the street.
“It just looked like pudding or something,” Cornette said recently.
Interestingly, our friend Ellen Smith from Mine Safety and Health News just recently received more information from the federal government in her continuing fight to ensure that the record of what happened at Martin County is clear: