At 11 a.m. this morning, in response to a citizen complaint filed on May 23 by the Harlan County Chapter of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Kentucky Resources Council, the federal Office of Surface Mining inspected the Harlan-Cumberland Coal Company Turkeypen Impoundment and issued a federal Notice of Violation requiring that by 1 p.m. tomorrow the company cease pumping water and slurry into the coal waste impoundment. The order requires also that the company improve monitoring of the volume of water discharging from the underground mine, and that the company either obtain approval for the increased pool elevation or by September 10, 2002 have reduced the elevation to the approved level of 1738 feet.
The company had exceeded the approved pool elevation for the coal waste impoundment, and the state surface mining agency had been enjoined by Harlan Circuit Court from enforcing a state notice directing the company to cease filling above the approved elevation. The state is concerned that the company had not demonstrated the safety of the impoundment pool relative to the close proximity to underground mine voids.
It is anticipated that the company will try to seek an injunction against the federal enforcement action.