MC Mining owns an underground mining complex located near the city of Pikeville in Pike County, Kentucky. Alliance Resource Partners acquired the mine in 1989, and it is operated by Excel Mining. The underground operation utilizes continuous mining units employing room-and-pillar mining techniques to produce low-sulfur coal. The preparation plant has a throughput capacity of 1,000 tons of raw coal an hour.
- MSHA ID:
- Operator: MC Mining
- Controller: Alliance Resource Partners LP
- County: Pikeville
- State: KY
- Latitude: 37.591467,
- Longitude: -82.492935
- 2007 Production (short tons): 1.5 million
- Coal Type: Low-sulfur
- Mining Method: Underground, Continuous mining
- Mine Status: Active
- Average No. of Employees: 287
- Transportation: Barge access via rail or truck, CSX
- Reserve Estimates: 18.1 million tons (as of 12/31/09)
In May 2011, local TV station WKYT reported flaming drinking water well at the home of Calvin and Denise Howard in eastern Kentucky's Pike County, who reported that the water burned their skin when they bathed. They also said that Excel Mining, operator of nearby coal mine MC Mining owned by Alliance, had offered to install a water filtration system only if the residents signed a liability waiver. The Howards refused, and in August 2011, filed a lawsuit (pdf) over the contamination.
According to the lawsuit, in January 2011 the Howards began hearing explosions beneath their home, and their well water turned gray and took on an offensive odor. In May 2011, the well exploded into flames, destroying the well house, and has burned continuously ever since. The Kentucky Department of Mining Reclamation has investigated the burning well and confirmed that it "is creating an environmental and public safety hazard." The company began providing bottled water to the Howards, but other impacted families said they did not get any assistance. The Howards have been advised to evacuate their trailer home but say they can't afford to do so. The lawsuit seeks compensation for their replacement housing and their water.
Residents also report mysterious health problems they feared could be connected to the poisoned water, including a teenage girl's hair falling out and a boy vomiting blood, and are hoping to connect their water pipes to a clean municipal water source - but price is a concern. Pike County officials have said it could cost as much as $150,000 to connect them to their existing water lines, and would take at least three months.
Excel Mining parent company Alliance was involved in a 2009 controversy over the firing of the director of Kentucky's Division of Mine Permits. Ron Mills' termination came after he refused to issue about a half-dozen mine permits -- most requested by Alliance -- because they failed to comply with federal and state laws. Mills' denials were ultimately overruled by higher state officials.
4126 State Highway 194 W.
Pikeville, Kentucky, 41501
Ph: (606) 631-9460
Fax: (606) 631-1663
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To see a listing of coal mines in a particular state, click on the map:
- "ARP: Central Appalachia Mines" Alliance Resource Partners, accessed April 2011.
- Sue Sturgis, "Flaming drinking-water well in Kentucky illuminates Big Coal's abuses" Institute for Southern Studies, August 19, 2011.
- "Major U.S. Coal Mines," Energy Information Administration