Breaking Local News
Alpha Natural Resources says federal prosecutors have closed a $210 million settlement stemming from a West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers in 2010. Under the settlement, Bristol, Va.-based Alpha would face no criminal charges in the Upper Big Branch explosion as long as it abided by the agreement's terms. The agreement required Alpha to compensate the miners' families, bankroll cutting-edge safety improvements and pay for years of violations by the mine's former owner, Massey Energy. Alpha executive vice president and general counsel Vaughn Groves says in a news release that the company has met or exceeded its obligations.
A legislative committee unanimously passed an amended bill Wednesday that proposes new regulations for above-ground storage tanks following last month's chemical spill. The latest version of the bill passed by the House health committee would require annual inspections for tanks like the one at Freedom Industries that leaked chemicals January 9th. The proposal also requires public water systems to have plans in place to protect their water from spills, and react quickly when they occur. The bill has two more House committee stops. The Senate already passed its own version.
The state Division of Highways has reopened a section of road that had been closed for weeks because of a rock fall The section of West Virginia Route 3 in the Raleigh County area of Sundial has been closed since late December because of fallen rocks, according to a news release from the DOH. It's slow going though, and speeds are reduced to 15 mph until the road can be repaved this spring. But the hillside has been stabilized, and the repairs have been made to ensure it's safe for motorists.
Funeral services are happening today for a Clendenin Firefighter who passed away last weekend in a car accident. Volunteer firefighter Lt. Nathan Smith's funeral will be held at 2 p.m. today at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Elkview. Smith was a 13-year veteran of the Clendenin Fire Department.
A coal slurry leak in Eastern Kanawha County is not expected to impact water supplies. The West Virgina Department of Environmental Protection has been investigating the slurry line rupture, which impacted Fields Creek, and that flows into the Kanawha River. West Virginia American Water released a statement saying its Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant would not be affected, and there are reports that the leak has since stopped. The Dept. of Environmental Protection says the Kanawha River was impacted, but exactly how much will take more fact-finding.
The West Virginia Senate has unanimously passed a bill to ensure vacancies on higher education commissions, councils and boards are filled in a timely manner. Some vacancies on these higher education boards have been left empty for as long as six months in the past, and right now there are 15 people serving on boards whose terms are expired. This Senate Bill 426 went into effect Monday and gives the governor 30 days to appoint a member to fill any vacancy. The bill also prevents members whose terms have expired from serving more than 60 days after their term ends.
A legislative audit of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture has uncovered poor record keeping, questionable reimbursements and other issues with a loan program that may have cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars during the tenure of former Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass, according to findings released this week. The audit was requested by Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick shortly after he took office in 2013. The report also said poor record keeping made it impossible to track the accuracy of a $4 million outstanding balance in the Rural Rehabilitation Loan program. In a news release Monday, Helmick said many of the audit recommendations have already been addressed and the department is working to ensure full departmental compliance with policies and guidelines.
Yeager Airport has cancelled several flights scheduled for today connecting Charleston with both Charlotte and Atlanta becuase of the winter storm that's impacting much of the southeastern US. Several flights out of Huntington have also been canceled. Call ahead and check with your airline to make sure the flight is still on.
The trial continues today for a man accused of terrorizing a woman. 44-year old Joey Jeffrey is accused of beating stabbing, and torturing Leanne Quinn, and prosecutors say Jeffrey thought Quinn had stolen drugs and other items from him when it happened fourteen months ago. Quinn testified Monday she was doing drugs with Jeffrey and another woman and the torture started after that. Jeffrey is also considered a person of interested in another missing persons case. Melanie Metheny has been missing for almost eight years and the case is still unsolved. The trial continues today, and if convicted, prosecutors are aiming for life in prison.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller released a statement Monday following a hearing at the Kanawha County Courthouse. The US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held the hearing, and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, and U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall also attended. Sen. Rockefeller said in the statement that “Good businesses cannot thrive or even survive if they must shoulder the costs when bad actors get away with cutting corners. It’s time to acknowledge that industry is not looking out for you. Too many in industry are driven solely by maximized profits, and this cynical strategy has caused tremendous harm to West Virginians’ well-being and has shaken their sense of our state’s future.” Since the spill, Rockefeller asked the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to open an investigation into the root cause of the spill, and asked the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency to work on a joint study into the long-term health risks.