Buffalo Creek Disaster courtesy of Paula Wells. A Pittston Coal Group decal sticker listing some of the company's mining locations in the VA-WV area. By 1957, the Buffalo Mining Company, as part of its strip mining operations, began dumping “gob” — mine waste consisting of mine dust, shale, clay, low-quality coal, and other impurities — into the Middle Fork branch. “Hope Wanes for 94 Listed Missing in Logan; Known Flood Dead is 88,” Charleston Gazette, March 4, 1972. A true story about a lawsuit relating to a failed dam, written by the lead lawyer. Tree roots, abandoned pipes and other penetrations into the dam can lead to failures or incidents. Some residents in the area, especially those who lived in the town of Saunders, located in the valley directly below the dams, had worried for years about the dams’ strength. They also worried about the mining practice of dumping coal mining “slag” or “gob”– coal mining waste – into the dams. One of the photos used in “Disaster on Buffalo Creek: A Citizens' Report on Criminal Negligence in a West Virginia Mining Community,” 1972. But following a bitter labor strike in 1989, and the declining profitability of its minerals division throughout the 1990s, Pittston began to wind down its coal operations. “Engineers Say Buffalo Dam Doomed at Start,” Logan Banner (Logan, WV), May 30, 1972. 3 every day. Looking at property in our area brought remembrance of the flood at Buffalo Creek. The state of West Virginia also sought $100 million in damages from the mining company for the Buffalo Creek disaster, but settled for $1 million in 1977. Downstream, the coal wastewater — theoretically “filtered” through the dams – would then emerge in a “cleaner” state in Buffalo Creek and beyond. The flood killed 125 people, injured over 1,100 more and left more than 4,00. Because of this failure, hearings were held in the United States Senate. In fact, the company was cited for over 5,000 safety violations at its mines nationally in 1971. The problem of coal waste impoundments in Appalachia — and all across America — has not gone away since the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. As the wave moved down the mountain valley it wiped out much of what stood in its path. Aerial photograph used during investigation of Buffalo Creek Disaster, showing the approximate locations of the three coal waste “gop” dams, and the path taken by coal slurry flood wave on its destructive run downstream. Thanks for the pitchers I go back to buffalo creek a lot mom’s in still buried there was born in Colorado and can recognize it any more it’s changed so much but it will always be home no matter where I am. Thank you. (Rockefeller would later be elected governor and U.S. When that report came out it called for new legislation and further inquiry by the local prosecutor, also concluding: Norm Williams, Deputy Director, WV-DNR & Citizens' Commission chairman. The depth of flooding on the flood plain can then be estimated by subtracting the ground elevation from the flood profile shown in Figure 2-17. During the weeks prior to the disaster, the mining company was contributing about 1,000 tons (907,184 kilograms) of mining refuse a day to the dam. First Lieut. UPI photographer Leo Gardner, one of the first outsiders to reach the area reported, “Lorado was wiped out.” Another early report from the devastation noted: “52 bodies lying on both sides of the road running alongside Buffalo Creek.” Some drowned in the floodwaters, while others were buried by landslides, as a thick muck had moved along with the coal water. In the year 2000, increased attention was focused on the regulation of coal waste impoundments following a failure near Inez, Kentucky. (3) U.S. Congress. During his last visit (approximately two hours before the failure), he decided to add another spillway pipe. .”In 1971, Pittston was cited for over 5,000 safety violations at its mines nationally. This displays the whole litigation process very well. But $27 million in flood emergency funds was used in 1975 to build a highway that really went nowhere, except to the coal tipples at the head of Buffalo Creek. Headlines from an Associated Press story reporting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- also testifying at U.S. Senate hearings -- found the the Pittston Coal Co. dam above Buffalo Creek was "doomed from the start.". The Buffalo Creek disaster had significant impact on our nation. Instead of accepting the small settlements offered by the coal company's insurance offices, a few hundred of the survivors banded together to sue. They regularly found deficiencies that were left unaddressed and stated in a letter in April 1971 that all inspections covering a period from September 19, 1966 to March 25, 1971 had been unsatisfactory.