Dunkard Creek Fish Kill Mystery Solved – And it Had Nothing to Do with Marcellus Drilling

There was a lot of speculation in 2009 about a fish kill over a 30-mile stretch of Dunkard Creek in West Virginia. We now know that the cause was leakage from coal mines. But early on, wild theories were being spun. Our favorite was that the algae killing the fish, which grows only in salty water and is not native to any place in West Virginia, somehow hitchhiked to the area on Marcellus Shale drilling rigs coming from Texas and Oklahoma. Science has finally won out over fairytale, and now CONSOL Energy will pay:

In a settlement announced March 14, CONSOL Energy, Inc., of Canonsburg, Pa. has agreed to pay a $5.5 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations at six mines in West Virginia and to build $200 million in facilities to treat mine discharges for 25 years.

The agreement settled a complaint filed concurrently by the United States against CONSOL and two subsidiaries in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Negotiations for the settlement followed the September 2009 kill of all fish and mussels on 30 miles of Dunkard Creek, a kill that was caused primarily by wastewater high in total dissolved solids, or TDS — salts, essentially — from coal and coalbed methane production.*

Although CONSOL also has drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale, the fish kill in Dunkard Creek had nothing whatsoever to do with Marcellus Shale drilling.

*WBOY-TV (Mar 14, 2011) – CONSOL Energy to Pay Penalty and Install Treatment Following 2009 Dunkard Creek Fish Kill