Elmer Lloyd's Pond
"My experience is a good example of how this mining is impacting people. The coal company destroyed the pond because of the valley fill and sediment pond above me didn’t function like it was supposed to. The company received many violations for sediment pollution that impacted both the pond and the Cumberland River. If the company would have cared about the situation more then they could have done less damages. They thought the fines would be cheaper than doing the extra precautions."
Click image to view slideshow
In 1993 Elmer and Brenda Lloyd built a pond for their family and friends to enjoy. Their children and grandchildren would camp by the pond behind their home in the community of Blair in Harlan County. Elmer would go out every morning with his cup of coffee and feed the fish. A fresh water spring from the hollow above his house provided clean water to the one-third acre, eleven feet deep pond. The pond had a good solid bottom.
In 2006, Nally & Hamilton’s sediment pond at the bottom of the valley fill failed multiple times releasing mud into the pond. The company put chemicals into the pond to get the mud to settle to the bottom; this resulted in killing all of the fish.
The company then said that it would be willing to dip out the sediment. Elmer felt like the company tried to pressure him to sign release forms by using bad language and implying that he had to sign off on this approach. Yet the Department of Fish and Wildlife indicated that dipping out the sediment would only be a temporary fix without a new source of water.
“I fully believed there were enough laws to protect my property. Boy was I wrong.”
The company also tried to get out of accountability by questioning the ownership of the property. The Lloyds had paid taxes on the land since they moved there in 1982.
“They knew that it was my property, but they were just trying to get me to back off,” Elmer said.
Things changed after KFTC got involved and helped to publicize Elmer’s situation. Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council provided Elmer with legal representation, and finally in 2009 the state mining agency ordered the company to restore the pond. In the end, the company gave Elmer a small settlement to restore the pond himself.
“If there were more laws, there could be more ways to help people,” said Elmer, a disabled underground coal miner. "It’s left up to the individual to collect damages from the destruction and 90 percent of the people aren’t going to do it because they are either scared or can’t afford to.”
In August 2010, the mine above the Lloyds’ home – now considered “reclaimed” – released another slide of silt and mud into his pond after a rain. “The stream coming off Pine Mountain [onto my property] was crystal clear,” Elmer reported. “The stream running off that strip job was thick mud running right into my pond.”