Environmental groups from the Ohio valley have told a US government panel studying the safety of coal waste tailings dams that no new dams should be permitted until they have completed their study. The study is being conducted under Congressional orders by a panel appointed by the US National Research Council. Congress ordered the dam safety review after an incident in October 2000 where millions of gallons of slurry leaked from a Massey Energy impoundment in Martin County, Kentucky.
In this accident, the floor of the impoundment broke through the roof of an underground mine located directly beneath the impoundment. Slurry poured into the mine workings, broke through a hillside and flowed into nearby streams. Water-ways turned thick and black, fish and other aquatic life were killed and public water supplies were polluted. The study is to be completed by mid-October 2001.