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MSHA News Release No. 2000-1025
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere/Katharine Snyder
Phone: (703) 235-1452

 Released Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Agency also listing impoundment locations on Webpage
MSHA Making Impoundment Documents Available for Public Viewing

    In further response to the impoundment dam failure in eastern Kentucky that resulted in the overflow of millions of gallons of coal waste sludge into area rivers, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has set up an information booth in the Martin County Courthouse for use of area citizens wishing to learn more about MSHA's enforcement actions and inspections at the Martin County impoundment.

   MSHA also is listing on its web site every impoundment dam site nationwide designated by the agency to be at any risk of breaking through and impacting the surrounding community. The agency also plans to develop a map for the web site in coming days showing where each site is located.

   "We want every interested citizen to have access to key information about these impoundments including our actions at the Martin County site," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Many people have become quite concerned about impoundment dams in their communities as a result of this incident. And we want to be sure that everyone has equal access to this information concerning the location of these dams as they do present a potential hazard, in some cases, to nearby residents and their property."

   MSHA will display for the general public all available maps, plans, and correspondence concerning the Martin County Coal Corporation impoundment dam that failed on Oct. 11, 2000, in the Martin County Courthouse located on Main Street in Inez, Kentucky. Materials will be available for public viewing in the upstairs courthouse beginning Tues., Oct. 24, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays as long as there is public interest. A representative from MSHA will be onsite to answer questions concerning the documents.

   MSHA's web site at now lists coal mine impoundment dams nationwide along with other key information including the mining company responsible for the site and contact phone numbers to learn more about the impoundment. The agency also plans to post maps on its web site that will depict specific locations so that internet users will be able to view the locations of the impoundments in proximity to their homes and communities.

   Last week MSHA announced a nationwide review of more than 600 coal mine waste impoundment dams in an effort to prevent future impoundment failures. MSHA will share the results in town hall meetings to be conducted in various mining communities. Locations and dates will be announced later. Citizens who have questions about impoundments in general or specific questions about impoundments in their communities can call MSHA toll-free at 1-888-454-3124.