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West Virginia Faces Fresh Chemical Disaster

Last month the Elk River became the site of a chemical spill that paralyzed West Virginia. Now the state faces another calamity.(Tom Hindman/Getty Images)

photo of Clare Foran
February 12, 2014

A month after a chemical spill threatened West Virginians' water supply, the state is facing a fresh disaster.

Coal slurry spilled into a creek on Tuesday that flows into the Kanawha River after a slurry line ruptured and burst at a coal preparation plant. The slurry contains MCHM, the same chemical that leaked from a chemical-storage tank into the state's Elk River last month leading to a partial ban on drinking water across the state.

The slurry spill is estimated at more than 100,000 gallons, and the mixture has already blackened significant stretches of Fields Creek, a tributary of the river. 


"This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River," Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection told the West Virginia Gazette. "This is a big deal; this is a significant slurry spill."

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