More Arrests on Coal River Valley as Actions Against Mountaintop Removal and Coal Sludge Dams Continue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    
  MAY 23,
2009             

CONTACT: Sludge Watch Collective 304-854-7372

COAL RIVER VALLEY, W.Va.—More than
seventy-five residents of the Coal River Valley and members of a
coalition that includes Mountain
Justice
and Climate
Ground Zero
picketed the entrance to Massey Energy\’s
Marfork mining complex today at noon. Seven people were arrested.
The actions were in protest of the company\’s plans to blast 100 feet
away from the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment.

The demonstration began with a prayer
and sermon by Bob “Sage” Russo of Christians for the Mountains.
Referencing the Sermon on the Mount, he called upon citizens to be
stewards of the Earth and to move towards sustainable, stable jobs. 

Protestors stood in front of the gates
of the mine facility with signs including “7 billion spilled, 998
killed.”

“Passersby on Route 3 were
overwhelming supportive with honks, waves, and thumbs up signs,”
Rock Creek (Raleigh County) resident Julia Sendor said.

During the protest, seven people
approached the entrance to the dam facility and the Whitesville
detachment of the West Virginia State Police asked them to leave.
When the seven refused, the State Police arrested them. Dispatchers
say the activists were sent to the Southern Regional Jail near
Beckley, but that information has not been confirmed. Bail was
reportedly set at $2,000 per person.

After the arrests, former U.S.
Congressman Ken Hechler, a longtime opponent of strip mining, gave a
speech. He underscored the responsibility of citizens to safeguard
their freedoms and stand up for their rights.

The protest came just hours after
activists carried out two non-violent direct actions to protest
mountaintop removal and coal sludge impoundments.

This
morning, at the Marfork facility, two people wearing hazmat suits and
respirators were arrested after boating onto the Brushy Fork
impoundment and floating a banner that read, “No More Toxic
Sludge.” State Police charged the activists with littering and
misdemeanor trespass and transported them to the Southern Regional
Jail. Their bail has been set at $2,000.

At another action, six activists hung a
“Never Again” banner and chained themselves to a massive dump
truck on a Patriot Coal-owned mountaintop removal mine on Kayford
Mountain. State Police arrived on site to find three people chained
to the main axle of the truck and three others chained outside the
truck’s cab. The police removed the six activists, who, along with
two others supporting them, were transported to the Madison County
Courthouse, where they were reportedly processed and released.

The toxic lake at Brushy Fork dam sits
atop a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines. Massey Energy’s
own filings with the state Department of Environmental Protection
project a minimum death toll of 998 should the seven-billion-gallon
dam break. Floodwaters would reach 38.78 feet in height in the town
of Peytona, 26.61 miles downstream, within three hours and fifteen
minutes of breakage. 

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