For Immediate Release
Eight More Arrests Following Second Wave of Citizen Protest at Toxic Coal Sludge Lake and Mountaintop Removal Site
Massey Energy blasting would endanger community, destroy permanent renewable energy potential
PETTUS, W.Va. - This morning
five activists, who had chained themselves to a bulldozer and an excavator,
and one videographer were arrested for trespassing at a mountaintop
removal site. By afternoon, dozens of local residents, friends
and supporters from throughout Appalachia converged at the mine's
gate. Eight more citizens were arrested in the afternoon action.
The latest wave of protesters,
trained in and committed to non-violence, delivered a letter to mine
company officials. The letter, ultimately intended for Massey Energy
CEO Don Blankenship, insists that Massey cease the mountaintop removal
operation on Coal River Mountain. (A copy of the letter is posted at http://climategroundzero.com/
Blasting for part of the operation
could begin at any time, very close to a nine-billion-gallon toxic coal
waste sludge dam called the Brushy Fork Impoundment. Blasting
would occur above underground mines close to the dam and the lake of
toxic coal waste it impounds.
Instead of mountaintop removal,
residents and their supporters are advocating for a wind farm on the
site as a safe alternative for cleaner energy and long-term jobs (www.coalriverwind.org).
"I fear for my friends and
all the people living below this coal sludge dam," said Gary Anderson,
who lives on the mountain near the site. "Blasting beside the dam,
over underground mines, could decimate the valley for miles. The
'experts' said that the Buffalo Creek sludge dam was safe, but it
failed. They said that the TVA sludge dam was safe, but it failed.
Massey is setting up an even greater catastrophe here."
In 1972, a sludge dam operated
by Pittston Coal Company failed and killed 125 people in Buffalo Creek,
In 2000, a sludge dam operated
by Massey Energy in Martin County, Ky., released approximately 300 million
gallons of coal waste that broke through into underground mines. The
EPA called that the worst environmental disaster in the Southeast.
Then, in December 2008, a coal
ash sludge impoundment operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
failed near Harriman, Tenn. That disaster released over one billion
gallons of toxic sludge that destroyed three homes, damaged twelve more
and covered 300 acres.
The Brushy Fork coal sludge
impoundment currently contains seven billion gallons and has a nine-billion-gallon
Residents have lost faith in
their state government and taken their plea nationally.
Climate expert James Hansen,
the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said, "President
Obama, please look at Coal River Mountain. Your strongest supporters
are counting on you to stop this madness."
"We can't sit by while
Massey jeopardizes the lives and homes of thousands of people," said
Vernon Haltom of Naoma, W.Va. "Governor Manchin and the West Virginia
Department of Environmental Protection have proven that they are unwilling
to protect the citizens. What do they expect us to do? Will they wait
until we're in body bags to take this threat seriously?"
A 2008 report by the federal
Office of Surface Mining revealed serious deficiencies in the WVDEP's
regulation of coal waste dams (www.wvgazette.com/News/
In November, WVDEP approved
a permit revision allowing Massey to begin the mountaintop removal operation.
Despite citizens' objections, DEP denied public participation in its
Anderson added, "We need
to stop the madness and stop Massey from blowing up our beautiful mountain.
We need to go with the better energy option, and that's a wind farm,
which is perfect for Coal River Mountain. We could have a green
energy future for the country, starting right here."
Arrested in the morning action
were Rory McImoil, Matt Noerpel, James McGuiness
Mike Roselle, Glen Collins
and videographer Chad Stevens.
Arrested in the afternoon action
were Lorelie Scarbro, Larry Gibson, Charles Nelson, Missy Petty, Mary
Wildfire, Vernon Haltom, Allen Johson and Heather Sprouse
For updates, photos and video
footage, go to http://climategroundzero.org.