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Science And Nature

How Kentuckians desire to hold coal companies in charge of deadly flooding

Nearly 60 Kentucky residents have filed case against neighboring coal companies, alleging negligent practices that contributed to recent historic flooding.

The lawsuit, filed in Breathitt County Circuit Court the other day, seeks damages for personal property such as for example homes and vehicles ruined by the early August flooding that killed 39 people and left a huge selection of Kentuckians with out a spot to live. Many residents of Lost Creek, an unincorporated town in eastern Kentucky, are actually without their homes and surviving in tents. Also, they are seeking compensation for emotional damages from Blackhawk Mining and Pine Branch Mining.

Blackhawk Mining, founded in 2010, currently operates eight coal facilities in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, like the Pine Branch complex, a subsidiary of open pit mines roughly seven miles from Lost Creek. The business has grown recently despite its former bankruptcy and a worldwide coal investment downturn where large finance institutions have pulled out of coal operations. The Pine Branch coal mine is uphill from Caney Creek, a tributary of the North Fork Kentucky River, and neighbors the River Caney community which Lost Creek is really a part.

Coal mining has deep roots in eastern Kentucky and could have directly caused a few of its worst floods ever. Past research shows that flood-prone communities in eastern Kentucky overlap with heavily mined landscapes changed by mountaintop removala process where mountains are blasted with explosives and rain-absorbing vegetation is killed to gain access to coal seams beneath. The lawsuit alleges that Blackhawk and Pine Branch operations were ticking time bombs prepared to explode with any kind of heavy rainfall.

They wont have water for half a year. All of the power lines are down, Ned Pillersdorf, the attorney representing Lost Creek residents, told Grist. A lot of people, or even everybody, are displaced. Pillersdorf has experience suing coal companies in the wake of devastating floods and represented West Virginia coal miners fighting for paychecks after coal giant Blackjewels bankruptcy.

The lawsuit alleges that Blackhawk and Pine Branch didn’t properly maintain their silt retention ponds, which caused contaminated waters to flood the homes of Lost Creek residents. These ponds amass debris, sediments, and water stemming from coal mining. Silt pond flooding isn’t not used to coal communities and contains caused the evacuation of neighboring residents for decades, and contains contaminated nearby waterways.

The lawsuit alleges that debris, sediment, along with other matter, including fish, escaped from the silt ponds and came onto the house of several of the plaintiffs, and the neighboring coal companies violated state law by not properly maintaining these ponds.

Blackhawk Mining said in an organization statement they do not buy into the claims manufactured in the lawsuit. Recent flooding have not stopped the coal company from blasting mountains, however, and the lawsuit alleges that the business posted notices that blasting will continue in the coming months despite the fact that communities remain dealing with the flooding. A report from NBC News also discovered that Pine Branch has circulated notices detailing that operations will continue from now until next July.

Our individuals were deeply influenced by the flooding, including lack of family members, homes and belongings. We’ve been supporting the city with relief efforts right from the start and our sympathies are with those affected, said the statement. The flood was an all natural disaster without precedent.


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