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Other water systems aren’t in any danger

Water supplies in Lawrence County and its villages are safe, officials said.

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Water supplies in Lawrence County and its villages are safe, officials said.

"The coal sludge won’t affect wellfields along the river because the river doesn’t even affect the wells," said Pat Leighty, South Point village administrator.

South Point draws drinking water from wells, not from Ohio River intake pipes, said Leighty, who oversees the village’s water treatment plant.

That water comes from an aquifer deep underground and not from the river, he said.

Coal Grove, Proctorville, Hecla Water – all pump drinking water from similar wells or springs.

"The big problem is up the Big Sandy because that’s the only water supply they have there," Leighty said, adding that’s where towns have shut down water supplies because of the coal sludge.

The sludge began moving along the Big Sandy following its spill from a Martin County, Ky., Coal Corp.’s preparation plant pond Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Kentucky mining officials and the Ohio River Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) have been monitoring the problem since.

ORSANCO is monitoring and sampling by boat, tracking the sludge’s entry into the Ohio River, officials said.

Once it hits the Ohio, it will likely be diluted Leighty said.

The spill was about 200 million gallons originally – some of that is still trapped in Eastern Kentucky streams – while water flow along the Ohio River is about 14 billion gallons a day, he said.