Hurricane Creek Mining Media Archives

Coal Mining Media coverage from early days of 
Friends of Hurricane Creek

01/14/2002 Black Warrior Minerals 2nd blowout into Hurricane Creek

Sludge floods Hurricane Creek

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Saturday, January 12, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
A dam burst near Peterson's Hurricane Creek on Friday, flooding the creek with large amounts of clay and sediment.
Friends of Hurricane Creek Director John Wathen said the 5-mile creek was colored red and orange from the sludge, which leaked into the creek about 5 p.m. Friday.
Wathen blamed Black Warrior Minerals, a Sumiton strip mining company, for the damage.
"These people need to be shut down," Wathen said. "They shouldn't be digging in the creek if they can't control it."

Mining company chided for potential damage to creek

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 12, 2002 at 11:00 p.m. 


The director of an environmental organization designed to protect Hurricane Creek said Saturday the effects of a burst dam that flooded the creek with large amounts of clay and sediment Friday afternoon could have dire repercussions for the wildlife in the creek.

State cites mining firm in Hurricane Creek spill

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
State officials have cited a local coal mining company that spilled large amounts of dirt and clay from a sediment pond into Hurricane Creek on Friday.
Randall Johnson of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission said Monday that the commission has issued a notice of violation to Black Warrior Minerals.
"I've been working on that creek for half my lifetime, and they ruined it in one day," John Wathen said.
Wathen said the spilled sediment already has turned the creek's waters orange and red. It could cover the bottom of the creek and kill aquatic life, Wathen said.
"The entire creek is coated with this stuff," Wathen said. "There's a stain out in the [Black Warrior River] where it hit the river."

Second sediment flood draws complaint

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
An environmental group has accused a Brookwood mining company of damaging Hurricane Creek with a flood of sediment for the second time in two weeks.

Click to enlarge
A sediment flood stained the waters of Hurricane Creek and the Black Warrior River last weekend.
Buy photo
Photo | John Wathen

The Friends of Hurricane Creek filed a complaint Tuesday with the Alabama Surface Mining Commission against Black Warrior Minerals, which owns a coal operation in east Tuscaloosa County.
The group's director, John Wathen, said the company failed to install adequate erosion controls on a path it recently cleared to the banks of Hurricane Creek, causing a mudslide and turning the creek's waters orange.
Wathen said the path was built so the company could clean out sediment from a spill Jan. 11, when a spillway broke on Black Warrior Minerals' property, eroding dirt from a nearby dam into the creek.

Spillway lacked required steel wire

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Saturday, February 9, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
A cracked spillway that allowed sediment to flood Hurricane Creek in January wasn't built to specification, a state mining official said Thursday.

Click to enlarge
The bridge along Alabama Highway 216 crosses Hurricane Creek, where sediment from a dam burst has changed the color of the water.
Staff photo | Jason Getz

Frank Evans, an inspector in the Alabama Surface Mining Commission's Tuscaloosa field office, said the spillway, owned by Black Warrior Minerals, did not contain required concrete reinforcing wire.
Evans said installation of the grid-style steel wire in the company's spillway was a requirement outlined in its mining permit.
Black Warrior Minerals is a surface coal mining company based near Brookwood.
The spillway, which was over a dam for Black Warrior Minerals' sediment Basin 008, developed a crack in its concrete lining in January. Water seeped through the lining, collapsing the spillway and washing large amounts of sediment into Hurricane Creek.

Officials didn't do pH test on creek
Jennifer Acosta
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
The full extent of damage to Hurricane Creek from a January sediment flood may never be known because environmental officials failed to test the water's acidity.
When a spillway at Black Warrior Minerals collapsed Jan. 11 and flooded the creek with sediment, investigating officers from the Alabama Surface Mining Commission and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management failed to test the creek's pH levels.
John Wathen, director of environmental group Friends of Hurricane Creek, said that because the sediment originated from one of the company's coal pits, a pH test should have been taken immediately.
"The water that was being pumped was being pumped directly from a strip pit, which is normally very acidic," Wathen said. "You're taking a serious chance on damaging the ecosystem, and it's important to take these tests at the onset to see exactly what damage was done."

Creek cleanup is first since spill

Stephanie Hoops
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
A five-mile stretch of Hurricane Creek got a good cleaning Saturday as about 50 area residents donning boots and gloves picked up the trash in and around the creek for the seventh annual Hurricane Creek Cleanup.

Click to enlarge
Several dozen tires were pulled out of Hurricane Creek during the Friends of Hurricane Creek annual cleanup off Holt-Peterson Road Saturday afternoon. About 50 people participated in the cleanup, now in its seventh year.
Staff photo by Stephanie Hoops.

And when it was all done, they sat down for chili and conversation.
Tuscaloosa resident April Brantan said she’s been doing the cleanup for several years.
"I enjoy it," she said. "It’s a good community service project, and they have a lot of people who do the chili cook-off. It’s good to just enjoy the creek after they do the cleanup all day."
The cleanup of the portion of the creek off Holt-Peterson Road is an annual event organized by the Friends of Hurricane Creek.
The cleanup this year, however, was especially meaningful. Hurricane Creek sustained a sediment flood in January that stained the creek orange after a spillway collapsed at Black Warrior Minerals, a surface coal mining operation near Brookwood.


Mine fined $20,000 in spill

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
Black Warrior Minerals has been fined $20,000 by a state agency for flooding Hurricane Creek with sediment.
Though Hulcher said the $20,000 fine is not out of the ordinary for such a violation, members of environmental group Friends of Hurricane Creek said it is too light.
"$20,000 to an operation as big as a strip mine is a slap on the wrist," said John Wathen, the group's director. "I don't think it's nearly enough for what they've done. They had an alternative of $250,000; they gave them less than one-tenth of that."

Groups protest mining permit

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Saturday, April 13, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Two environmental groups have joined forces to oppose a planned surface coal mine near Hurricane Creek.
The Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Friends of Hurricane Creek are appealing a coal-mining permit recently granted to Tuscaloosa Resources, a company making plans for a facility behind Brookwood High School, near the creek's banks.
Environmentalists said the Birmingham mining company's current permit allows it to discharge harmful iron, manganese and sediment into the northern fork of the 25-mile creek.
Amy Sides, a researcher with the Alabama Rivers Alliance, said these substances could worsen the condition of the ecologically sensitive Hurricane Creek.
"Hurricane Creek is impaired for sediment and for iron and other metals," Sides said. "It has too much going into it because of the abandoned mine lands that are upstream. It shouldn't have more going into it."

Creek cleanup almost done

Jennifer Acosta
Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2002 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 22, 2002 at 11:00 p.m.
Workers are busy cleaning up the mess after the third known spill of coal pollutants into a Tuscaloosa County waterway this year.
This incident is the latest in a series of mining accidents that leaked extraneous material into nearby waterways. A dam at Black Warrior Minerals burst in January, spilling large amounts of sediment into Hurricane Creek and staining its waters orange. In February, an accidental release of coal residue by Empire Coke Co. darkened a section of the Black Warrior River.
Local environmentalist John Wathen said these spills have been going on for decades, but modern trends toward natural resource conservation have brought them publicity only in recent years.
"I guess we're seeing so much of it because no one's ever brought it to the public's attention that it's happening," Wathen said. "We've come to accept this as a way of life in coal country, and it doesn't have to be."

State needs to move quickly on Hurricane Creek pollution 

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 at 3:30 a.m. 

State environmental enforcement officials do not have a sterling track record when it comes to protecting one of Tuscaloosa County's natural treasures, Hurricane Creek.
Before local environmentalists launched a campaign to clean up the rocky-banked tributary and raise public awareness about it, it was rapidly turning into an open sewer. Years of neglect and lax enforcement of environmental regulations left it filled with trash and industrial pollution that threatened to kill its wildlife and doom its recreational pleasures.
Because of the efforts of Friends of Hurricane Creek and other concerned groups and individuals, much of the creek has been restored to health.

Help for the Abandoned Mines of Hurricane Creek

State, Tuscaloosa officials to discuss details of ADEM suit settlement

Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2001 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2001 at 11:00 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA - State officials will meet with City Council members this morning to discuss details of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the state and the Alabama Department of Environmental management against the city of Tuscaloosa.
Ennis said the city will provide $68,000 in matching funds for a project around Hurricane Creek that will reduce acid leaks from past mining into the water, which is polluted with high levels of iron, aluminum and acid.

Hurricane Creek gets a hand

Published: Sunday, July 29, 2001 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 28, 2001 at 11:00 p.m.
It’s nice to see the state finally take an interest in Hurricane Creek, one of the scenic natural landmarks of Tuscaloosa County.
Working with the Alabama Rivers Alliance conservation organization and the city of Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Office of Surface Mining is launching a program to try to neutralize runoff from strip mines that threatens the creek’s plants and animals.
The creek, which for thousands of years sustained Indian settlements all along its banks and later nourished some of the county’s first white settlers, has not fared well in our own age.