Mine Mapping: Kentucky Signs Legislation to Divert a Disaster


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called it the worst known environmental disaster to strike the southeastern United States. On October 11, 2000, a 72 acre coal slurry pond in Martin County, Kentucky collapsed into the coal mine below it, eventually finding its way into nearby streams and creeks. When it was over, an estimated 250 million gallons of sludge, 3 times the volume of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, had contaminated Kentucky's environment. With quick action and a solid plan, Kentucky is now on the road to preventing a similar disaster in the future.

At the ceremonial signing on March 25, Governor Patton signed into law SB165, which allows for enhanced sharing and access to mine mapping information, and eliminates the restriction for releasing active mine information that is in place for the Department of Mines and Minerals.

SB165 was drafted by the Kentucky Mine Mapping Initiative team, which is comprised of representatives from the Kentucky Geological Survey, Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Revenue Cabinet, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and Governor's Office for Technology. Digital mapping technology will be used for accessing coal mine and gas/oil well data statewide for government and public users for environmental protection, developing best land use practices, and protecting human health and safety.

There are 118 slurry impoundments, 331 surface mines and 322 underground mines in Kentucky.

For more information see:
Full details on SB165

Martin County mine.

Coal slurry spill.

Governor signs SB165.

Images of Martin County used with permission from the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.