A major coal company with mines in Appalachia and Western Kentucky has filed for bankruptcy. In a news release, Patriot Coal said it was undertaking the move to facilitate restructuring. "The coal industry is undergoing a major transformation and Patriot's existing capital structure prevents it from making the necessary adjustments to achieve long-term success," said Patriot Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Irl F. Engelhardt. "Our objective is to use the reorganization process to address important issues in an orderly way and make the Company stronger and more competitive."
It wasn't supposed to happen to coal miners in Mark McCowan's generation. It wasn't supposed to strike so early and so hard. At age 47 and just seven years after his first diagnosis, McCowan shouldn't have a chest X-ray that looks this bad.
"I'm seeing more definition in the mass," McCowan says, pausing for deep breaths as he holds the X-ray film up to the light of his living room window in Pounding Mill, Va.
A Pike County miner has died following an accident at the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation's Mine No. 23 in Kimper. From the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing: Preliminary reports indicate 33-year-old Farley Sargent was laying track when a rib roll occurred. A rib roll is when a portion of the coal pillar wall falls into the corridor.
An Eastern Kentucky coal miner can return to work after a judge ruled he was unfairly fired from his job. The decision affirms the rights of coal miners to report unsafe working conditions without fear of retribution. Charles Scott Howard was injured while working at a mine operated by Cumberland River Coal Company in Eastern Kentucky. The complaint alleges that even after he was cleared by doctors to return to work, the coal company took extreme steps to keep him from working.
One of the nation’s largest coal companies has announced it will be closing several mines and preparation plants in Eastern Kentucky.Alpha Natural Resources will stop mining coal at four mines in Martin and Pike counties and idle two preparation plants. The company has enough jobs at other locations to reassign 286 employees, but about 150 will lose their jobs.
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against seven Eastern Kentucky coal companies, alleging the companies discharged waste into nearby valleys and streams without a permit. Coal companies need to obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers before mining in order to comply with the Clean Water Act.
If Virginia is for lovers, then Pike County is for feuding. The History channel miniseries about the infamous Kentucky and West Virginia families has drawn huge viewership, propelling the Eastern Kentucky county into the pop-culture ether and pushing a historical tome by a Lexington publisher to the top of the sales charts.
Kentuckians can see a bit of what pioneer Daniel Boone saw when he crossed into Kentucky in 1775. The Fort Boonesborough Foundation is sponsoring two tours this summer. A one day tour on August 21stbegins and ends at Fort Boonesborough and includes a trip to Levi Jackson State Park. Foundation Secretary Elizabeth Chalfant says they’ll also offer two-day tours in July and September. Those trips also begin in Madison County.
This spring’s devastating storms and tornadoes thrashed Kentucky communities, marking the 11th federally declared disaster in the state since 2008. To support ongoing recovery efforts, Gov. Steve Beshear Friday ceremonially signed legislation to help Kentuckians when they are victims of natural disasters. Several members of the General Assembly joined the governor for the ceremony in West Liberty, where the central business district was devastated by the March 2 tornado outbreak that heavily damaged several other communities and killed 24 Kentuckians.
For a quarter of a century, Eastern Kentuckians have gathered to discuss progress in their region. Today and Tomorrow (Friday), they gather in Prestonsburg. This year’s East Kentucky Leadership Conference will compare the economies of two Appalachian states. East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Director Bill Weinberg says studies show 70 percent of east Kentucky’s counties are distressed while only four percent are distressed in Appalachian Virginia. The longtime east Kentucky activist says Virginia might have better education and infrastructure, but, in some ways, the differences are minimal.
Eastern Kentucky’s largest healthcare provider is suing the state and two major managed care operators (MCO) for failing to manage the new privatized Medicaid system. Appalachian Regional Healthcare, which provides a majority of the healthcare services to eastern Kentucky (locations noted on map), may soon lack adequate protection against high medical costs.
It was only a month ago that an outbreak of tornadoes barreled through Kentucky and killed 24 people. Only a month, but sometimes, for Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield, it seems as if more like six months have passed. So much has happened on the way to recovery, and so much more remains to be done, Westerfield said.
As the two-year anniversary nears of the deadliest coal mine disaster in recent history, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is still trying to address some of the explosion’s root causes. One of the biggest impediments for federal inspectors is mine operators who break the law and give advance notice of inspections. When inspectors arrive at a coal mine, the first thing they do is try to capture the mine’s communication systems.
A new permit that will change the way the federal government deals with some surface coal mining permits goes into effect today. The new permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers has more stringent standards to protect the environment. When coal operators want a permit for a surface mine, they have two choices. They can try to get a so-called “Nationwide Permit” from the Army Corps of Engineers, or they can go through a more rigorous process and get an individual permit, which involves both the Army Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The war of words over coal severance funds for Pike County is heating up as officials paint a bleak picture of how the county may suffer if recently proposed funding allocations are not reconsidered. State lawmakers, however, are challenging the county to tighten its belt and avoid making "heartburn"-inducing requests.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters Friday named Robert F. Scott as the new director of the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML). Scott, a civil engineer, most recently created mine and waterline designs for a Lexington engineering firm. Prior to that position, he worked for more than 26 years for AML as a design engineer, a design branch manager and served as the assistant director, according to a press release issued by the state.
Tornado survivors in Kentucky will have more time to file their federal and state tax returns. In the 21 Kentucky counties listed as federal disaster areas, taxpayers will have an extra six weeks to file their returns. Kentucky Revenue Officials follow many of the same guidelines set by the federal Internal Revenue Service for disaster relief. Department of Revenue spokesman Gary Morris says the filing deadline in now in late spring.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would designate some coal severance tax money to scholarships for coalfields residents; the measure has already passed the House. But a report by a non-profit group warns that Kentucky needs to think about the long-term future of the state’s coal severance fund. Coal producers pay a tax of four and a half percent value of coal that’s sold into the state’s coal severance fund. Half of that money goes to Kentucky’s general fund, and the other half goes to various programs in coal-producing counties.
The emotional impact of a natural disaster may linger for weeks or months. Such is the situation facing people in eastern Kentucky communities like Salyersville. Although there was no loss of life, the recent tornado caused extensive physical damage in Salyersville. Angie Conley is a registered nurse at the HOPE Family Medical Center in Salyersville. For some survivors, Conley says the trauma can linger.
Besides physical damage to structures and people who stand in their way, natural disasters like a tornado can do damage that’s not always visible. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental ailment often associated with combat veterans. Eastern Kentucky psychologist Mark J-Hovee told WEKU’S Stu Johnson surviving a tornado can bring on similar symptoms.
Relief, Recovery, Reflection, and Rebuilding all follow a natural disaster like the one that’s struck much of the Commonwealth. All four elements were found Wednesday in the south central Kentucky community of East Bernstadt. The east Bernstadt fire station now serves as the emergency response command post. It’s really a simple process. People who want to help, come in, sign a volunteer sheet and are dispatched to a work site. Among them is Marsha Hodge, who lives in nearby London, but goes to church is in East Bernstadt. ‘I think it’s doing good…I think a lot of people are chipping in and helping..a lot of the churches…I think we’re doing good as a community,” said Hodge.
The people of eastern Kentucky are mobilizing to help their neighbors. A group of churches in Mount Sterling is collecting relief supplies for the people of nearby West Liberty. Organizing the effort is city Public Works Director Steve Lane. A work crew led by Lane cleared a path into West Liberty on Friday evening, just after the Tornado struck.
FRANKFORT – A mining accident in Harlan County has claimed the life of one miner. Preliminary reports indicate the miner was repairing a canopy – the protective covering over a shuttle car – when the canopy collapsed. The miner has not yet been identified and there are no other reported injuries. The accident was reported at 5:40 a.m. Saturday, according to a state press release.
A powerful storm that hit about 6 p.m. Friday smashed the core of West Liberty in Morgan County city into rubble. Endre Samu, in the public affairs office of Kentucky State Police in Morehead, said three people were dead in West Liberty and at least 75 were injured. Emergency responders and citizens hastily banded together to form search parties during the night. Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Kenny Dulin said dozens of people were missing.
At least four people died in the East Bernstadt area of Laurel County Friday night after a severe storm moved through the area, according to county officials. At least 27 people were transported to Saint Joseph Hospital in London, said Albert Hale, director of emergency management for Laurel County.
Kentucky State police in Morehead on Friday said they had received reports of tornado damage in West Liberty. The National Weather Service in Jackson said it had received unconfirmed reports of major damage and possibility fatalities there.State police in Morehead said they had received reports of a tornado causing damage in West Liberty. The Morgan County town, about 80 miles east of Lexington, was severely damaged by a storm on Wednesday. The most serious damage occurred at the Country Carpet outlet, which lost its roof. Damage Wednesday mainly was centered in an area along U.S. 460 and Ky. 191 west of town. To learn the latest on tornado, storm and flood warnings and watches, click here.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited four Kentucky coal mines for safety violations. The mines were among 16 nationwide with a history of compliance problems targeted in MSHA’s special impact inspections. The mines cited were Exel Mining’s Van Lear Mine in Martin County, Perry County Coal’s E4-1 Mine and two Harlan County mines owned by K and D Mining and D&C Mining Corporation.
A house was destroyed by fire at Black Mountain on Friday, and within an hour, a church was burning no more than 200 yards away. The Harlan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fires, and according to sheriff Marvin Lipfird, he has a suspect. “Because of the quick action by several fire departments and the diligent effort by the firefighters, they were able to contain the fire in the church,” Lipfird said.
An eastern Kentucky mining company and three of its top officials are facing indictment by a federal grand jury. But even so, federal indictments for mine safety violations are rare. A federal grand jury says Manalapan Mining Company and three of its officials willfully violated federal mine safety rules. The indictment says the mine operations manager, superintendent and foreman “failed to report and record hazardous conditions” at Manalapan’s P-1 Mine in Harlan County. The period they’re targeting culminated in a miner being killed by a roof collapse last summer.