May 23, 2009: Picket at Pettus!

Come join the rising tide of nonviolent civil disobedience to mountaintop removal as Mountain Justice gathers at the gates to Massey Energy’s Marfork facility in Pettus, W.Va. To stop this madness we must maintain pressure on the mining and energy companies, lawmakers and regulators. The government’s harmful inaction has failed to stop the crimes of mountaintop removal and the administrative remedies have been exhausted, leaving no option but civil disobedience. But we can’t do it alone.

WHAT: A picket style rally, focusing on the proposed mountaintop removal Site on Coal River Mountain. We want to display a pair of shoes for each of the 998 people who’s lives are endangered by the Brushy Fork Impoundment up Marfork Hollow.

WHERE: at the gates of the mine site and preparation plant in Pettus, W.Va., where they plan to destroy the last mountain untouched by mountaintop removal coal mining in the Coal River Valley: Coal River Mountain.

WHEN: 12:00

WHY: Across the street from the gates at Pettus, directly in the line of fire, is the Pettus Head Start. The 40-foot wall of sludge, swelling to 72 feet, would engulf every town from Pettus, past Whitesville to Prenter where it would still be 20 feet deep.

What you should bring: Shoes- all the old pairs of shoes you can find!

The 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster was 132 millon gallons, killed 125 people in a matter of minutes and left over 4,000 people homeless. The 2000 Martin Co., Ky., spill was 306 million gallons, contaminated the water supply for over 127,000 people but, luckily, nobody was killed. The TVA fly ash spill disaster was over 1 billion gallons its aftermath is slowly killing people living nearby.

Marfork Hollow is where the infamous Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment looms over a Head Start school, two elementary schools and close to 1,000 people. The impoundment’s dam, at 900 feet, is the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth tallest in the world, and has a 9-billion-gallon capacity. As in the Martin County disaster, when the floor of the impoundment broke through into underground mine workings and the slurry burst out through two mine portals, Brushy Fork’s 7 billion gallons sit on top of a honeycomb of underground mines. Massey wants to set off explosions as close as 100 feet to the impoundment.

If the slurry–coal toxin concentrate–broke through into those deep mines, it would rush out all sides of the mountain and down onto dozens of communities. If the dam broke, the kids at the Pettus Head Start would have 12 minutes before the sludge is 5.7-feet-deep, 31.5 feet in 20 minutes and 72 feet in 30 minutes–that’s an average of 4 feet per minute. More of the numbers on this are available in Marfork Coal’s emergency warning plan (PDF). Either of these disasters would dwarf the Buffalo Creek, Martin Co., Ky., and TVA coal ash spill disasters, combined.

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