Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

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Jack in the News

Dirty business

Graffiti "Graffiti's 'Eer of the year: Jack Spadaro: Doing what's right despite the cost" 

Living on Earth on NPR "Whistleblower Faces the Ax" 

OVEC Action Alert
January 6, 2004




Bring Back Jack (Spadaro)

January 13, 2004
Photos by Vivian Stockman unless noted

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Whistleblower Faces Ax for Standing Up to Coal Industry and Its Cronies; We Kickoff  Bring Back Jack Campaign

At lunchtime on a brisk Tuesday, about 60 people rallied outside the downtown Charleston, W.Va. post office to help the Friends of the Mountains kickoff our Bring Back Jack Campaign. Jack Spadaro is a rare person--a coal industry regulator who actually regulates the industry and works to protect miners and coalfield residents from the industry's excesses. Over his 30-year career, which began with investigating the causes of the 1972 Buffalo Creek tragedy, Jack has earned the trust and admiration of many Appalachians. 

Jack was involved in investigating the Martin County Coal (Massey Energy) October 2000 disastrous "spill" of 306 million gallons of coal sludge along the Kentucky- West Virginia border. It appears to us that Jack was placed on administrative leave in June 2003 (and has been notified he is to soon be fired) from his position as  the superintendent of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's Beckley Mining Academy because he dared to delve into the truth about the coal sludge disaster and the Mine Safety and Health Administration's role in that disaster, which occurred at Kentucky's largest mountaintop removal operation.

At this event, the Friends of the Mountains (a coalition of groups opposed to mountaintop removal) launched a letter-writing campaign to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, asking her to reinstate Jack to his position at the Academy. We all posted letters to Chao, and you can too! 

Secretary Elaine Chao 
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

For background information to help write your letter, click here.  A sample letter is available in two formats, .doc or .pdf:
Sample fetter .pdf 
(print it and add your comments)
Sample letter .doc 
(suitable for editing if you have Word or a compatible program)

You can also help by sending e-mails and letters in support of Jack to WV Senators Byrd and Rockefeller, as well as Senators Ted Kennedy (MA) and Arlen Specter (PA), and Congressmen Nick Joe Rahall (WV) and George Miller (CA). All have concerns about coal sludge impoundments. Please mention to them your worries about coal sludge impoundments in general, and, in particular, the Massey disaster and MSHA's corrupt handling of the catastrophe's aftermath. Your message could mention that Jack is a whistleblower whose job should be protected. After all, he has dedicated 30-some years to attempting to protect the people, communities and environment of the Appalachians. 

Find the legislators' contact information at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.


We want Jack back!

Former Congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler, center
with yellow sign, has known Jack for years. Ken can vouch for Jack's
sterling work to safeguard miners and coalfield residents.

Anna Sale of the Sierra Club, center, addresses the gathering crowd.

Patty Wallace, with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, reminds us about Jack's
record of serving the public good. From the 1972 Buffalo Creek tragedy, to the 2000
Martin County coal sludge disaster, to now, Jack has been guarding us from coal
industry greed and accompanying government complicity. 

Ken Hechler leads the crowd in a round of "Bring Back Jack!"

Sierra Club's Bill Price delivers 20-some letters to Secretary Chao asking
for Jack's reinstatement. The letters were written by members of the
Coal River Mountain Watch. Bill also had a few choice words to say
about the Bush administration's treatment of Jack. 

Jack is a hero to many.
Photo by Gregg Anthony

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