Charleston, WV — Eleven parents, community leaders and student activists were arrested today while sitting in at the office of West Virginia Governor Joe Mancin. Their sit-in was spurred by a recent decision by the State Mine Board to approve a second coal silo near Marsh Fork Elementary School. Protesters were treating roughly and dragged through puddles of mud. About 40 protesters remain in the governor’s office. Marsh Fork Elementary located near Sundial, WV currently sits 225 feet from a coal silo. Residents say Governor Joe Manchin is shirking his responsibility for the health and safety of the students.
The coal silo operated by Massey Energy releases chemical-laden coal dust into the air which is poisoning the air that school kids have to breathe. Independent studies have found coal dust throughout the school. The school is also 400 yards downstream from a 385 foot tall seeping toxic coal waste sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon capacity, over 20 times the volume of the Buffalo Creek sludge dam disaster that killed 125 people in 1972. A 1,849-acre mountaintop removal mine surrounds the sludge dam and much of the nearby area.
“Governor Mancin seems to believe that all he has to do is make promises while the children who attend Marsh Fork continue to breathe in coal dust,” says Bill Price of
Charleston, WV. “We are not interested in promises. We want a new school for these kids so that they do not have to breathe in polluted air while they are trying to learn.”
“This is exciting that students and community members have joined together to demand a safer school for the kids who attend Marsh Folk Elementary,” says Sarah Kidder, a student at Glenville State College and a key protest organizer. “These kids should not have to endanger their lives simply by going to school and having to breathe in air polluted by coal dust.”
Massey has been attempting to build a second coal silo near the school, but the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2005 rejected Massey’s permit request for the second silo. On Tuesday, March 13, the state Surface Mine Board overturned the DEP’s order that blocked the silo.
“The situation at Marsh Fork is an embarrassment to West Virginia,” said Lindsey Warf of Bluefield, WV. “People from other states can’t believe this is happening in the
Contrary to Massey’s public claim that the silo would reduce coal dust, their 2005 air quality permit application associated with the second silo’s operation predicts an increase in coal dust emissions by three and a half tons of dust per year.
Call Governor Manchin’s office: 1-888-438-2731 (toll free) or 1-304-558-2000 and let him know that you and most of the rest of the world doesn’t believe small children should be made to go to school in the shadow of a coal processing facility.
Email the Governor’s office: [email protected].
Below are two videos from the rally at the state capitol on March 16. Residents and their supporters demanded a new school for the kids of March fork Elementary in their community.
Thanks to Tommy Bensko for putting these together.