Federal engineers are questioning construction of W.Va. slurry d - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Federal engineers are questioning construction of W.Va. slurry dams

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- A draft report kept under wraps since 2011 shows federal engineers are concerned about construction practices and possible compaction problems at seven West Virginia coal slurry impoundments.

The citizens' group Sludge Safety Project obtained a one-page summary of a document the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement has refused to release.

Some coalfields residents have long worried whether impoundments were properly built and whether they could fail, unleashing a flood of sludge and black water.

Spokesman Chris Holmes says OSM found no evidence that any impoundment is in imminent danger of failing and would have acted immediately if it had. He says OSM needs time to finish the report.

It shows engineers worry that quality-control methods for construction are insufficient, and loose, wet material isn't properly drying and compacting.

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