Creek turns black in Mingo County

West Virginia

MATEWAN, WV (WOWK)—People along Grapevine Fork Road in Mingo County, WV are frustrated after black water came shooting out of an old mine. Now the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is investigating the incident near Matewan.

“It could have been tragic. We could have been digging up bodies down through here,” said David Murphy. He said the sound was chilling.

“You could hear the rocks roaring in the creek and it was terrifying,” Murphy described. Early Monday morning the water in front of his home suddenly turned black. “There was about, I’m going to say a 4 to 6 foot wall of water black and silt come out all of a sudden down through here,” he said.

Thursday, the creek was still dark and murky with discharge from an underground mine after the blowout.

“I went up there to see what was going on and it had the road completely blocked,” said resident Rutherford Daniels. “There was no traffic going up or down. You couldn’t even get a four-wheeler by.”

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) was on-site throughout the week investigating and trying to clean up.

Terry Fletcher, Acting Communications Director for the WVDEP said the initial investigation indicates that the discharge is coming from the pre-law Crystal Block No. 8 Mine. He said a pre-law mine, as defined by the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), is a mine that ceased operation prior to 1977 and has no responsible party. Fletcher said the investigation is ongoing.

The incident has people in the community shaken.

“I never really thought about it until this,” Daniels said. “I figured, you know, they had taken care of everything.”

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