Buffalo Creek Flood Research Paper

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Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972 Submitted to: Professor Summers In partial fulfillment of the requirements in: Tech 4380 By Elena Cassada Texas State University- San Marcos October 27, 2014 ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to identify the Buffalo Creek disaster and give • HISTORY Buffalo Creek is located in Logan County, West Virginia and essentially was made up by several cities along the 17-mile creek. It was a growing area due to the location of an important resource, coal. These were coal towns, built by the coal companies for the support of their mines (W.V. Archives and History). Population soon decreases when mechanized mining replaces hand tools which pushed miners out of a job. Buffalo Creek…show more content…
On February 25, 1972 the weather was very unusual during that time of the year. It was strangely rainy and the Buffalo Mining officials were concerned about the conditions of Dam No. 3. So, they monitored the water levels every two hours the day prior to the accident. Early morning on the 26th, one of the operators for the heavy equipment, Denny Gibson, noticed the water level rising above the crest of the impoundment. Five minutes later, the dam fails and nearly 132 million gallons of water and coal waste rushed from Buffalo Mining Company’s slurry impoundments through Buffalo Creek Hollow. It coursed through 16 mine settlements along the creek, killing 125 people, leaving roughly 1,100 people injured, and over 4,000 homeless. The men of Pittston Coal Company referred the accident as an “act of God” (Sewell). When Dam No. 3 failed, the others collapsed instantly. But only four days prior, the dam was declared ‘satisfactory’ by a federal mine inspector. Immediately after the disaster, an outraged community demanded this be investigated by upper authorities. So soon after, U.S. Department of the Interior provided three separate reports by the Bureau of Mines, the Bureau of Reclamation, and a geological survey team headed by dam experts. All of their investigations came to the same conclusion, Dam No. 3 was had not been built to hold large quantities of…show more content…
Moore. It was made up entirely of members who were sympathetic to the coal industry. After investigating, it called for legislation and further inquiry by the local prosecutor. It proposed that Pittston Coal Company be charged and guilty of murdering 124 men, women, and children. Their investigations have shown that Pittston was knowingly operating the dams at high capacity but did nothing to accommodate their coal productions. In their engineering analysis of the dam, Mr. Edgar Pierson observed black water seeping into Dam No. 2. These observations are indicative of sludge displacement and piping through the foundation of Dam No. 3, which would have contributed significantly to the weakening of an already unstable foundation (Kelley). By not fixing the issue from the beginning, it caused massive cracks in the dam across the surface and slumps on the downstream face. As the water level rose rapidly behind Dam No. 3, the dam was becoming super-saturated, thus increasing its weight and adding to the load on the foundation. Dam No. 3 was not built using engineering practice standards. It was built on a weak foundation of thick sludge layer (around 40-100 feet) and had an inadequate overflow system. The engineers did not accommodate the other types of water intake such as rain, snowmelt, and the creek itself. The dam simply could not handle the amount of water going through the stream. The

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