West Virginia Faces Fresh Chemical Disaster

CHARLESTON, WV - JANUARY 10: The banks of the Elk River, where Kanawha County emergency services eventually determined the chemical had seeped through a secondary containment barrier, is seen on January 10, 2014 in Charleston, West Virginia. West Virginia American Water determined Thursday MCHM chemical had 'overwhelmed' the plant's capacity to keep it out of the water from a spill at Freedom Industries in Charleston. An unknown amount of the hazardous chemical contaminated the public water system for potentially 300,000 people in West Virginia. (National Journal)

A month after a chemical spill threatened West Virginians' water supply, the state is facing a fresh disaster.

Coal slurry spilled into a creek on Tuesday that flows into the Kanawha River after a slurry line ruptured and burst at a coal preparation plant. The slurry contains MCHM, the same chemical that leaked from a chemical-storage tank into the state's Elk River last month leading to a partial ban on drinking water across the state.

The slurry spill is estimated at more than 100,000 gallons, and the mixture has already blackened significant stretches of Fields Creek, a tributary of the river.

"This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River," Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection told the West Virginia Gazette. "This is a big deal; this is a significant slurry spill."