This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Critic Questions Way Coal Firms Build Slurry Ponds

Stanley called Bushy Fork "the biggest and the baddest" of all impoundments and said MSHA inspectors routinely found violations during its construction. But fines weren't levied and construction wasn't stopped.

"They just let them keep going, and then they say, 'Well, there's no way to fix this now, so let's just change the plan.' They're hodge-podging this stuff."

He heavily criticized state regulators and said if it weren't for MSHA, "I think all the damn things would fall down. Immediately."

Just two years ago, MSHA said it had improved oversight of impoundments, with better training and a new handbook on dam management.

The agency made the comments on the 10th anniversary of a disaster in Martin County, Ky., when slurry burst through the bottom of the Martin County Coal Corp.'s 68-acre holding pond, sending black goo through an underground mine and into 100 miles of waterways. The spill in 2000 polluted the water supply of more than a dozen communities and killed aquatic life before reaching the Ohio River.

Massey Energy eventually paid $46 million for the cleanup, along with about $3.5 million in state fines and an undisclosed sum to residents.

Spadaro, who helped investigate that accident, believes MSHA could go further, requiring better engineering evaluations of potential weak spots in impoundments.

He claims regulators at all levels continue to go easy on the industry in favor of coal production. Rather than require companies to build new dams on solid earth or dispose of the wastewater and refuse through a drying system, they allow the operators to raise the height of existing dams and ponds.

Federal law, he said, requires impoundments to be stable during all phases of construction.

"Well, if you build a dam on top of 80 feet of fine coal waste that's wet," Spadaro said, "that is not stable material."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
3 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,106.70 +29.83 0.17%
S&P 500 2,000.02 +2.10 0.11%
NASDAQ 4,570.6370 +13.29 0.29%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs