Buffalo Case Studies

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The three steps are 1) Define the problem, 2) Conduct the analysis and 3) Identify the best solutions. The first step of the Cause Mapping approach is to define the problem. The environmental goal was impacted due to the sludge flow into the Guyandotte River, the outlet of the Buffalo Creek.

First we ask four basic questions: What is the problem? The community was significantly impacted with over 4000 people left homeless.

In the late 1950’s the Lorado Mining Company, predecessor of the Buffalo Mining Company, had obtained a permit from the state to construct an alternate filter technology to process the sludge material, however the alternate process had never been constructed.

This process would have elminated the need for the refuse dam.

Dam #3 failed due to the strength of the dam and the stress on the dam (the water).

In addition, in order for a dam to fail, the dam has to exist.

In this example we’ll start with the 125 fatalities which were a result of people drowning.

We continue to ask “Why” questions to develop the Cause Map.

The strength of Dam #3 was a function of the material of construction and the foundation.

The dam was constructed of coal refuse, a relatively low strength material, not typically used for earthen dam construction, but readily available at the location.


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