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12 years later people remember sludge spill

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - More than one decade after a massive coal sludge spill in Martin County people say they are still seeing and feeling the effects.

Look around Coldwater Creek and you see green grass and flowing streams, but 12 years ago it was a disaster zone.

"It started moving up the bottom just like, just old black sludge," said William Crum.

300 million gallons of coal sludge poured down onto any homes and land nearby.

Crum says he will never forget it.

"Almost up to that brick house there, almost up on the porch," he pointed out.

When they woke up that October morning they knew nothing would be the same.

People who live along Coldwater Road say everything was covered with the sludge. They say once it was cleaned up that land was then filled with rock, and any farming or gardening they did has since stopped.

"You about can't tend nothing now. It was a nice bottom here before that. Now it's full of rocks. You can't hardly do nothing with it," said Crum.

They say 12 years and 46 million dollars of cleanup later, you can still see remnants in the creek bed--painful reminders that their land will never be the same.

"It's just heartbreaking to see your land like that," said Crum.

But they say they are trying to move on, and they will stay in the place they have always called home.

Several of the residents filed lawsuits against Martin County Coal for the spill damages. Many of those lawsuits have been settled out of court.

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