According to the lawsuit filed by attorney Ned Pillersdorf, the mine company failed to meet the approved plans for drainage systems at its Frasure Creek No. 8 site in the Lost Creek community.
“Plaintiffs allege that the landslides and flooding they experienced on that date were direct consequences of the Defendants’ extra-hazardous activities in the watershed,” Pillersdorf explained in the complaint.
The 30 residents involved in the lawsuit were affected by the landslides and flooding, and all incurred property damages as a result. Several residents had damages to water wells that served as their main source of water.
William and Mary Ann Mullins had a cost estimate completed at their home and property by a contractor, and the cost of having the damages repaired are estimated at $62,880, according to the complaint, which noted their property received “substantial flood damage.”
Linda and Kenneth Neace, Sr. received damages to their home, well, land and a business. Wendel and Gail Hunter, and Shannon Longsworth all assert in the complaint that they were directly in contact and “experienced apprehension of imminent harmful contact,” when the landslides and water threatened their homes.
Calls made to Frasure Creek Mining Company’s office in Scott Depot, W. Va. seeking comment were not returned last week or before deadline.
This is not the first time the Frasure Creek Mining Company has been put on notice for their practices, Pillersdorf noted: “Defendant Frasure Creek has a long history of being a persistent violator of Kentucky environmental law, and the conduct in this case is a continuation of this pattern of disregard for the rights of the citizens of this commonwealth,” he wrote.
Frasure Creek Mining, along with all mines in Kentucky, are required to build sedimentation ponds, diversion ditches and drainage control structures. The state must approve these plans and grant permits. On June 20, when the northern half of Perry County was hit by a flash flood, the drainage systems in place at Frasure Creek No. 8 failed to divert the water, the complaint alleges, forcing sediment and water down the mountain and into the yards and homes of several residents of Lost Creek.
According to the complaint, state inspectors had found a gap in the slope surrounding a drainage pond that allowed water and sediment to flow through the hole instead of out through the spillways that had been designed as a part of the drainage system. State inspectors then issued a notice of noncompliance to the Frasure Creek Mining Company on June 20, 2011. The notice stated that the defendants “failed to monitor and maintain sediment structures according to permit plans.”
Due to the water not being diverted down proper channels, the water flowed down part of the slope that had not been properly compacted and prepared for water, causing the landslides.
The state inspectors then issued a second notice of noncompliance to the company on June 20, citing that a dam structure had been altered and that Frasure Creek had failed to fix these changes to fit the permit plan. The notice states that the sediment pond was not draining in the manor it was designed to because of these changes.
The failure of the drainage systems allowed far more water to flow through the creek and the sediment dammed up portions, causing the water to flow through the property of the residents, carrying with it large amounts of rock, coal and silt.
In the year leading up to the failures on June 20, the Energy and Environment Cabinet issued at least seven other citations. Three are cited in the complaint as being directly related to the drainage systems. The first regarding the sediment pond in question dated back to July 8, 2010.
The Lost Creek residents involved in the suit have incorporated these original notices into their complaint, which was filed with the Perry Count Circuit Court on August 17.