Tree sitters stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley, W.Va.


stopping blasts above Pettry Bottom, Coal River Valley

Roselle or Charles Suggs 304-854-7372

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W.Va.—Two people are occupying two treetops at the edge of Massey
Energy’s Edwight mountaintop removal site above Pettry Bottom and
Peachtree in Raleigh County, West Virginia. At 6:30 a.m., concerned
citizens unrolled two banners reading “Stop Mountain Top Removal”
and “DEP – Don’t Expect Protection” from their treetop
platforms. They are perched 80 feet above the ground, within 30 feet
of the mine, and within the 300 feet of blasting. Blasting is
prohibited when people are within such proximity.

Nick Stocks, 25, and
Laura Steepleton, 24, of Rock Creek, West Virginia, are in the trees.
Kim Ellis, of New Orleans, Louisiana and Zoe Beavers, of Hurricane,
West Virginia are on the ground below. All protesters are associated
with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice.

“I am sitting in
this tree to halt the blasting that endangers the residents of Pettry
Bottom and Clays Branch,” Steepleton said. “The people of Pettry
Bottom, Clays Branch are living below a land slide waiting to happen
and the only barrier between fallen trees, mud, boulders and water
and the Pettry Bottom community is a wooden stake and tarp fence. The
DEP needs to step in and protect its citizens – not Massey Energy
– stop the blasting above Petty Bottom, and end mountaintop

According to a
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health publication and
multiple cases of citizen documentation, flyrock has been known to
land a half-mile from blasting sites. Several homes in Pettry Bottom
are within a half-mile radius of the permitted blasting area. A map
available from Aurora
shows the proximity of homes in Pettry Bottom to blasting on the
Edwight site.

Pettry Bottom
resident, Carol Beckner, has stated “Me, my husband and both of my
children all suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, bronchitis,
and really bad headaches, from constantly breathing in coal and
silica dust and toxic fumes like diesel fuel and ammonium nitrates.”
The tree sitters say they will not willingly descend until blasting
ceases above Pettry Bottom, Massey Energy pays the full cost of
healthcare and home repair for Pettry Bottom and Peachtree residents,
and the Federal Office of Surface Mining commits to supervising the
full reclamation of the Edwight mine.

Army veteran and
lifelong West Virginian, Zoe Beavers states “I am on this mountain
because I believe that every single West Virginian who is proud of
being from ‘Almost Heaven’ should take a stand against
mountaintop removal. I am here because DEP officials have failed to
stop the blasting. I am putting my body and reputation on the line
to do their job and stop the blasting. I served in our military so
that we can all live in a country that does not exploit and destroy
its land and people.”

This is the
thirteenth in a series of non-violent direct actions and protests
that have brought together Coal River Valley residents, NASA climate
scientist James Hansen, students, underground miners, military
veterans, concerned citizens and environmentalists from across the
nation with the goal of ending mountaintop removal. This is the third
protest in two weeks to focus attention on the WV Department of
Environmental Protection and their embattled Secretary, Randy
Huffman. It also follows days after the leak of DEP biologist Doug
Wood’s memo on the scale of environmental degradation caused by
mountaintop removal, directly contradicting Huffman’s statements at
a senate hearing last June.

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