Thirty-three Breathitt County residents have sued a coal company, saying water and mining waste from holding ponds near Quicksand Creek exacerbated damage from flooding after heavy rains May 8 and 9.
Attorney Ned Pillersdorf said that in a suit filed Thursday in Breathitt Circuit Court residents claim Appalachian Fuels was "grossly negligent" in allowing coal, sand and water to "either breach, overtop or otherwise rupture" sediment holding ponds near Ky. 542.
Quicksand Creek deposited sand and small pieces of coal across fields and yards miles downstream from the company's sediment and waste ponds. The lawsuit says most residents rely on well water, which is unusable after the floods, and they are asking that the company provide bottled water in addition to money for repairs to homes and property.
State mine enforcement inspectors are investigating residents' complaints. Results had been expected this week, but new information has come to light, delaying a final report, said Steve Vance, with the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement. He didn't say what the new information was.
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"I was hoping to be able to finalize this, but at this time, we're still trying to gather additional information, try to see exactly where we're going with this," Vance said.
Phil Osborne, a spokesman with PR firm Preston-Osborne in Lexington, said Appalachian Fuels previously owned the pond, but it was transferred a few years ago, and he could not comment further until the lawsuit is litigated.
The permit numbers listed at the site belong to Appalachian Fuels, according to state records.
Appalachian Fuels is an arm of Energy Coal Resources. Kentucky House Speaker, Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is on ECR's board of directors.
State Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, was until recently listed as Appalachian Fuels' public affairs director. A spokeswoman in his legislative office Thursday said Adkins hasn't worked for the company since it laid off about 500 people and stopped work. He still has an office at the company's headquarters in Ashland.