The Richmond Register

Local News

August 12, 2012

State finds Floyd County water pollution worse than feared

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Division of Water inspectors say water discharging from a Floyd County mountainside below a reclaimed surface mine “is creating an environmental and safety hazard for the residents who live in close proximity to the site.”

The report by DOW investigators David Jackson and Chad von Gruenigan follows a visit to the property of Rick Handshoe in Hueysville, who fears for his and his daughter’s safety. During the May 16 visit, the investigators collected water samples which produced even higher pollutant levels than those previously recorded by an environmental group.

As CNHI News previously reported, Handshoe’s residence is surrounded by surface mining sites and seeps and landslides have appeared on the mountainside behind his home and below an abandoned underground mine located beneath a partially reclaimed surface mine. Water is also discharging from the abandoned mine opening and contaminating a small creek which runs off the mountain and beside Handshoe’s property.

That unnamed creek drains into Raccoon Creek on another part of Handshoe’s property which is already polluted from yet another mine site. Just last month, the Energy and Environment Cabinet fined Laurel Mountain Resources $11,000 for pollution discharges from a sediment pond into Raccoon Creek.

Cabinet Secretary Len Peters and other cabinet officials have said they are so far unable to determine the cause of the seeps and pollution discharging into the second creek. Peters said such seeps can occur naturally and the pollution may be caused by something other than the surface mining operations above the old, abandoned mine.

The cabinet has asked the federal Office of Surface Mining to assist in determining the cause of the pollution. OSM has visited the site but has not yet produced a report of its findings.

But the DOW report filed by Jackson and Chad von Gruenigan states in a section on recommendations and conclusions that, “pre and post mining activities are the likely source and contributing factors to the poor water quality discharging from these locations.”

The report goes on to say the discharges are “creating an environmental and safety hazard for the residents who live in close proximity to the site” and recommends “that the discharge of acid mine drainage to the waters of the commonwealth cease immediately.”

Handshoe, however, said nothing has changed. He and the state continue to await the OSM report, but the confirmation of the danger posed by the seeps just adds to Handshoe’s fears.

“It’s kind of scary where it says residents living in close proximity to this stream are in an environmental and safety hazard,” Handshoe said.

Like samples previously taken by an environmental group, Appalachian Voices, the DOW samples indicated high levels of iron, aluminum, and other metals and pH levels so low the water can’t support aquatic life. The DOW investigators measured c=Conductivity — a measurement of suspended solids which is used to evaluate aquatic life — at levels above 4,300. The federal Environmental Protection Agency considers conductivity levels above 500 detrimental to aquatic life.

According to the narrative section of the report, acid mine drainage was flowing from the abandoned mine on the day of the inspection at a rate of nearly 13,000 gallons a day.

“The report kind of speaks for itself as far as what kind of danger me and my daughter are in,” Handshoe said. “My main concern is my daughter who sleeps 15 feet from this stream. But the more I learn, the more scared I am.”

Handshoe said he can’t afford to move but has considered moving his daughter to live with relatives in Bowling Green.

For now, he waits for the OSM report and hopes it’ll provide some sort of hope or relief.

“There ought to be some sort of enforcement arm to stop this,” Handshoe said.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 Shoulders-B.jpg Eggs fly at park

    Easter has probably never been so “eggstravagant” in Richmond as it was Saturday during the annual Eggstravaganza in Irvine-McDowell Park.
    For the first time, thousands of eggs were dropped, appropriately by an “eggbeater”-type helicopter, in addition to thousands of eggs already scattered on the grass below. Together, they numbered about 10,000, according to Erin Moore, Richmond Parks and Recreation director.

    April 20, 2014 12 Photos

  • City awaits funds for Water Street project

    Richmond city officials are still awaiting word on grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Water Street drainage project.
    However, Mayor Jim Barnes said he is confident the money should come through by May 1.

    April 20, 2014

  • Kitcarson1.jpg Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

    Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.
    The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.
    With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

    April 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • KY 52 link to I-75 to be discussed May 13

    While a proposed link from Nicholasville to Exit 95 on Interstate 75 north of Richmond has garnered attention and organized opposition, the state also is developing plans to link I-75 to another community to the west.

    April 20, 2014

  • May 30 last school day for students

    After 16 snows days and two weather delays this winter, the Madison County School Board decided Thursday to end the school year on Friday, May 30.

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-19 TechExtra1.jpg Students showcase projects in Technology Extravaganza

    Madison County School students showed off just how tech savvy they can be during the district’s sixth annual Technology Extravaganza on Thursday at Madison Central High School. After the showcase, more than 350 students were honored for their work.

    April 19, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-19 SchoolBoardJesseWard.jpg Ward honored for service; tech center named after him

    Retired Madison County educator Jesse Ward was recognized Thursday for his many years of service. To honor him, Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the board’s decision to rename the district’s technology training center on North Second Street in Richmond the Jesse P. Ward Technology and Training Center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Brian Smith.jpg Berea man indicted on 24 child porn counts

    A Madison grand jury has indicted a Berea man on 24 counts related to child pornography.

    Brian J. Smith, 26, is charged with four counts of distribution and 20 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by a minor.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Gregory Powell.jpg Police apprehend burglary suspect

    An observant witness was able to help Richmond police catch a burglary suspect shortly after a break-in Thursday afternoon on Savanna Drive off Berea Road.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results