Could West Virginia Ban Coal Sludge Injection?

By Rainforest Action Network
Jimmy Murphy of Sprigg, W.Va., holds a jar filled with well water from his home. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)
Jimmy Murphy of Sprigg, W.Va., holds a jar filled with well water from his home he says was contaminated with coal slurry by Massey Energy and subsidiary Rawl Sales & Processing.

Some good news this week from West Virginia: Our friends at the Sludge Safety Project report that, after years of work, communities are one step closer to achieving a statewide ban on toxic coal slurry injections!

A critical subcommittee has recommended that the West Virginia legislature pass a bill that would make permanent the existing moratorium on new injection permits and phase out operations that still pump coal waste from preparation plants underground. The bill also contains a provision offering a tax credit to companies that invest in technology to eliminate or greatly reduce slurry production or eliminate existing slurry disposal sites.

“This shows that when people get together, they can make a difference. We’ve been fighting for this for many years. People’s voices matter and we need more people speaking out,” said Chuck Nelson of the Sludge Safety Project, a group that has lobbied for years to ban slurry injection.

Coal sludge is a by-product from mining industry which has been injected underground for storage in abandoned underground mines — by the billions of gallons. This is a huge threat to water supplies — evidenced by the 700+ residents of Rawl, WV who are currently suing Massey Energy for poisoning their water supplies and making them sick.

A year ago, I joined the sludge safety crew in Charleston as they prepared to lobby for this legislation. I met a dedicated community of activists whose compassion and persistence is paying off.

There is important work to be done in the next two months to make this bill become a law that ends Coal Sludge injection in West Virginia once and for all. If you can help with those efforts, please contact to get involved.