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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 3, 2009
Contact: Charles Suggs 304-854-7372
Activists arrested opposing mountaintop removal, blasting beside nine-billion-gallon toxic coal sludge dam
Operation endangers community, destroys wind energy potential.
PETTUS, W.Va.—Five activists with Climate Ground Zero and pan-Appalachian Mountain Justice (www.mountainjustice.org) have been arrested and charged with tresspassing after locking down to a bulldozer and a backhoe this morning at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal mine site.
“Massey could flood the towns of Pettus, Whitesville and Sylvester with toxic coal sludge,” said Julia Bonds, of Rock Creek, W.Va. “Blasting at a multi-billion-gallon sludge lake over underground mines could cause the sludge to burst through and kill thousands of people.”
“The governor and county legislators have failed to act, so we’re acting for them,”Rory McIlmoil said. “They shouldn’t allow the wind potential on Coal River Mountain to be destroyed, and the nearby communities endangered, for only 17 years of coal. There is a better way to develop the mountain and strengthen the local economy that will create lasting jobs and tax revenues for this county, and that’s with wind power.”
Massey has begun work on the proposed mountaintop removal operation on Coal River Mountain, the same site where residents are advocating for a wind farm as a safe alternative for cleaner energy and long-term jobs (www.coalriverwind.org).
Massey also operated the Martin County, Ky., sludge dam that released approximately 300 million gallons of coal waste that broke through into underground mines in 2000. 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.
“We can’t trust Massey to protect the community, and we certainly don’t trust the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to keep us safe,” said Bo Webb of Naoma, W.Va. “Both have proven that profits come before citizens’ safety.” A 2008 report by the federal Office of Surface Mining revealed serious deficiencies in the WV DEP’s regulation of coal waste dams (www.wvgazette.com/News/200901110512?page=1&build=cache). In November, DEP approved a permit revision allowing Massey to begin the mountaintop removal operation. Despite citizens’ objections, DEP denied public participation in its decision making process.
For updates, photos and video footage, go to http://climategroundzero.org.