WHARTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is investigating an incident Thursday when about 2,400 gallons of coal-dust suppressant leaked into a Boone County stream.The chemical leaked from a 5,000-gallon tank at the Wells Preparation Plant and into Pond Creek, a tributary of the Little Coal River, near Wharton, said DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco. The plant is operated by Eastern Associated Coal, a subsidiary of Patriot Coal.The chemical, used to control dust during coal preparation, turned the water a milky-white color and left a plume about a mile long, Cosco said.It is nontoxic and no one is in danger, she said.
An environmental enforcement inspector walked the distance of the stream and did not find any dead fish."He saw quite a bit of lively fish in the stream," Cosco said. "So that's good news, because dead fish is something we expected to see in something like this."The DEP has requested reports from the plant to determine the cause of the leak. The tank in question did not show any sign of damage.Violations or citations could be forthcoming, Cosco said.