TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

October 12, 2011

74 file suit in Kayjay flooding

Charge coal company with failing to follow code regulations, performance standards

CORBIN — By Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer

Seventy-two survivors, and the estates of two who failed to survive, have filed suit against Nally & Hamilton Enterprises, Inc., a coal company operating upstream from the community of Kayjay in Knox County near the Bell County border.

An early morning flash flood struck the community of Kayjay on June 20.

Donald Joe Pate, 55, was found in flood waters about 9 a.m. at Warren Camp Road about a mile from the middle of Kayjay.

The Rev. Joe Junior Senters Sr., 67, who was called “Joe Boy,” died Monday, Aug. 15, at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington of natural causes.

The complaints of the residents of the area and the estates of the two who have died charged Nally & Hamilton with failing to follow code regulations and performance standards in the issuance of notices of non-compliance by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Department for Natural Resources.

They claim that sediment level exceeded approved clean-out level, and the company failed to stabilize rills and gullies on a backfill area and failed to maintain highwalls.

The coal miners also were charged with non-compliance by failing to pass surface draining and told to divert all surface water drainage through the approved sediment control structure.

Based on failing hydrologic requirements, Nally & Hamilton conducted surface mining within 100 feet of a stream, failed to maintain sediment control structures and minimize disturbance of water.

And Nally & Hamilton was charged with allowing material outside of the permit’s boundary to be deposited in a stream below three of the mine’s ponds during the rain event on June 20, 2011.

All the violations were to be corrected by 8 a.m. on July 22, 2011.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that in June 20, 2011’s early morning hours, Nally & Hamilton’s “mining activities created, caused, or played a substantial role in causing massive amounts of water, waste, rock, mud, silt, trees, branches, vegetation, rocks and coal ... to suddenly escape from mining sites, which resulted in Wolf Pen Creek and other tributaries being transformed into a raging river, which engulfed and destroyed many of the plaintffs’ homes, vehicles and other property.”

During the tidal wave, many of those living there were left stranded as they saw their homes and personal property destroyed and swept away.

Eight notices of non-compliance have been issued to Nally & Hamilton.

The plaintiffs allege that Nally & Hamilton violated mining regulations and acted in reckless and callous disregard of the plaintiffs’ safety and well-being as a result of the defendant’s failure to comply with mining regulations.

The plaintiffs in the suit ask for each individual plaintiff an amount more than the jurisdictional minimum of the Knox Circuit Court.

Also, they called for compensation for damages of real and/or personal property, homes, contents, vehicles, earnings, medical expenses and other damages, including pain and suffering, the cost of alternative housing, substitute transportation and other reasonable foreseeable damages.

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