According to the state's Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, an inspector witnessed black water seeping into the Cloverlick Creek near the city of Cumberland.
After the inspector was joined by other representatives of the division and Department of Natural Resources Division of Water, the source of the spill was tracked to a pond.
According to a statement from the state, "grayish water" was coming from the pond.
Black water is created by sludge from coal impoundments, sediment ponds, roads or other coal-mining related activities mixing with other water sources.
In this instance, the source was a deep mine and processing plant permitted to the Harlan Reclamation Services LLC, the state said. A containment pond on the company's property apparently overflowed, triggering the spill into the Cloverlick Creek.
Samples taken from the creek indicated the spill had affected the quality of water.
According to Linda Potter, a spokesperson with the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, a deadline of today had been set to stop the spillage, but the spillage has already stopped.
Potter said now that the problem has been contained, officials will meet with the company to assess the amount of damage the spill inflicted. A fine, based on the amount of damage caused by the spill, will be levied against the company.
The state will review the company's history, the seriousness of the spill, how at fault the company is for the spill and if the company acted in good faith to correct the problem. The amount of the fine will be based on the finding.
Although the fine could reach a maximum of $5,000, Potter said the problem at Cloverlick Creek was "not that serious" and that this is the first incident involving Harlan Reclamation Services LLC since it was granted a permit in April 1999.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Potter said.
Black water spills have drawn the attention of state government of late.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher authorized the creation of a task force which released a report in April outlining some steps companies could take to reduce or eliminate accidents.