Story on Slurry Spill Inaccurate

Editor, News-Register:

Murray Energy Corporation, on behalf of its independent subsidiary companies and over 3,300 employees, are very concerned about the article that the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer received from The Associated Press on Saturday, July 14, entitled, “OVC Violated Clean Water Act.” This article, which you obtained from The Associated Press, is a mischaracterization of the facts and a disservice.

The Associated Press ignored the relevant facts and mitigating circumstances surrounding these slurry discharges. The fact is, the slurry spills were completely unintentional, and regulators commended The Ohio Valley Coal Company for its swift and thorough response.

After fully containing the spills, Ohio Valley immediately and voluntarily initiated its own investigation of the incidents, fully cooperated with the governmental investigation, and took steps to ensure this type of event never occurs again. Indeed, as a result of our internal investigation, we have spent over $6 million to improve our slurry transport systems. These improvements are vastly superior to those required by regulations and reflect truly state-of-the-art environmental protection.

In this article, The Associated Press states that the spill killed “4,000 fish and animals.” This is a grossly exaggerated and baseless claim made by government bureaucrats, as I was there. The article also states that the spill “turned the creek black for 22 miles downstream.” Frankly, this is impossible because the Ohio River is only 16 miles from the location of the accidental spill. Only a very small portion of the creek, which I observed personally, was impacted by the clay and water slurry.

As you know, coal mining operations have been conducted along Captina Creek for over 50 years and, in that time, Captina Creek has remained a pristine watershed. While bureaucrats and The Associated Press have greatly exaggerated the damage allegedly caused, comprehensive studies have demonstrated that there has been no permanent adverse effect to Captina Creek during the entire 50 years. Frankly, the exemplary condition of Captina Creek is a testament to the fine work of our companies and our employees.

As the largest employer in Belmont County, Murray Energy Corporation and its independent subsidiary companies, including Ohio Valley, are the lifeblood of this region. At a time when the coal industry is constantly under attack, the people of Belmont County deserve reporting that is truthful, balanced, and focused on the facts.

Robert E. Murray, president and chief executive officer

Murray Energy Corporation