Analysis of Coal Refuse Dam Failure. Middle Fork Buffalo Creek, Saunders, West Virginia. Volume 1. Text.
On February 26, 1972, a coal refuse dam, owned and operated by the Buffalo Mining Company, failed near Saunders, West Virginia. The resulting flooding of the Buffalo Creek Walley had national ramifications. The immediate consequences of the flooding were the deaths of 118 persons and 7 reported missing, the loss of over 500 homes, and extensive flood damage to their property in Buffalo Creek Valley. Several investigations were started immediately after the disaster; some were under government auspices, while others were initiated by groups of concerned citizens. These investigations relied primarily on personal observations, and eyewitness reports, although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey undertook limited field and laboratory testing. These original investigations contributed to an understanding of the Buffalo Creek Flood. The principal contributions of this report are the presentation of a comprehensive view of the failure with essential data integrated from many sources, and an analysis of the failure based on a thorough program of subsurface exploration and sampling, field and laboratory testing, and engineering analyses.