West Virginia's DEP reassures citizens about orange rocks in Cheat River
While the DEP cannot be entirely certain as to the cause, it believes that the orange tinge is most likely the result of something happening in a closed mine near Valley Point. Probably the result of a roof collapse, the EPA purports that a blockage within the mine caused iron-laden water to build up within the mine, until it suddenly started flowing into the water.
At this point, the unusually iron-heavy discharge was enough to overcome the acid mine treatment system along the creek and continued, flowing into it for three days before receding and taking between five and six days to return to normal.
While this discharge may have had more prominent effects elsewhere due to its high iron content, the affected area of Muddy Creek is considered dead, meaning that it does not have any plant or fish life that might have been harmed.
The DEP came to the conclusion that this is the most likely explanation, following investigations triggered by reports from the general public; it has its engineers and geologists working to generate a plan to prevent similar circumstances in the future.