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Abandoned mines and poor oversight worsened Kentucky flooding, attorneys say

East Kentucky flooding killed at least 37 people, but many in the region are now asking if the abandoned coal mines may have contributed to the water that swept through their towns.

As eastern Kentuckians continue to search for missing loved ones, muck out their homes and prepare for more rain, they are beginning to ask who could be at fault for this past week's deadly flooding and whether it was a natural disaster or one caused by the coal mines that have drastically reshaped and scarred the landscape.

Compacted dirt, destroyed mountaintops and deforestation in eastern Kentucky have often been left ignored by the coal companies that mined there, despite legal requirements that they attempt to return the land to its natural state when mining concludes. In recent decades, that spurned responsibility has, at times, turned heavy rains into floods and caused local residents who once counted on mining for jobs and prosperity to bring litigation against their former employers in Appalachian courtrooms.

Lawyers who have pursued these cases in the past said it is still too early to pursue a case in the most recent flooding, as studies need to be conducted and claimants contacted, but interest in holding someone to account for the lost homes and at least 37 dead is growing.

"It may be too early to tell, but I've received a couple phone calls already," said Ned Pillersdorf, a Kentucky lawyer in Prestonburg who has successfully sued coal companies for flood damage in the past. "No one is denying the amount of rain we had — it truly was a 1,000 year event — but did the strip mines contribute? Absolutely."

Kentucky, particularly the eastern mountains, are littered with abandoned coal mines. Many are a result of strip mining or mountaintop removal mining, the latter a method in which mining companies use explosives to blast off a mountain's summit to get to the coal inside.

Post ID: 23da92e4-30b8-4228-b0d6-305cf0844583
Rating: 1
Updated: 23 hours ago
New York, New York

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