Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Health Survey Summary of Marsh Fork Elementary School Students Sundial, West Virginia (pdf)

News
Arrested Massey protesters issued citations, released

16 arrested at Massey site

16 arrested while attempting to deliver demands to Massey

Mountaintop Removal Protests Continue

State Police arrest 16 at Massey site

16 People Arrested In Mine Protest

Sixteen Arrested at Environmental Rally
(includes audio)

 

Masses Amass Again Against Massey

May 31, 2005
Photos by Vivian Stockman

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Locals, and Mountain Huggers Everywhere, Want Changes Near Kids' School

3 grandmothers were the first of 16 people arrested out of a crowd of 150 assembled to deliver a list of demands to Massey Energy.  Massey's Goals Coal processing plant looms over--in some places just 150 feet away--from Marsh Fork Elementary School. 

Parents, grandparents and concerned citizens worry that the toxic chemicals used at the plant are endangering the health of school children and teachers. Several men who worked at the plant are very ill from chemical poisoning and some have already died. In addition to the chemicals, people are very worried because a coal sludge impoundment--essentially a toxic waste storage facility--built above the school is leaking.  A man who worked on building the impoundment's dam said it is improperly constructed. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP), which says the dam is fine, issued the permit allowing the impoundment to retain 2.8 billion gallons of coal waste slurry or sludge.  As Massey expands mining operations, including mountaintop removal, around the sludge dam, we worry that the blasting could weaken the dam. Blasting already knocked a television off the wall inside the school.

This rally came on the heels of a protest at the same spot one week earlier. As area resident and Coal River Mountain Watch volunteer Bo Webb notes: These rallies are long over due. For the past one and a half years we have appealed to the WV DEP, the Raleigh County School Board, The WV Dept. of Health and Human Resources, the Governors office, the county health dept., many state politicians, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, asking them to please put an end to the abuse of the children of the Coal River Valley. We have appealed to the press. We have written letters to the editors of various news organizations. We have exhausted all resources that we can think of, and still nothing has been done. No one seems to care. And now it has come to this--we have been left alone to fend for these children. No child in America, or the world for that matter should be forced to attend a school that is surrounded by toxins, explosives, coal dust, chemicals, and a leaking earthen dam pointed directly at them, holding back 2.8 billion gallons of toxic sludge. Mountaintop removal should not be allowed anywhere, especially close to schools and communities. This state and Massey Energy are playing Russian Roulette with our children. We not only have the right to be here today, we have a duty to be here. Anyone that is aware of this situation should be here. We welcome help from all caring people.

Demands we attempted to deliver to Massey Energy include:

-That Massey Energy shut down the Goals Coal preparation plant and cease its mountaintop removal mining above the school immediately;

-That Marsh Fork Elementary School be cleaned up or that a safe, new school be built in our community;

-That Massey Energy withdraw its application for a second coal loading silo behind the school;

-That Massey Energy stop blasting our homes because we residents have a right to be safe and secure;

-That Massey Energy shut down its surface mine sites and invest in true sustainable energy.

Below and on the following pages are some photos from the May 31 rally.
 

People begin to assemble outside Marsh Fork Elementary School.
People begin to assemble outside Marsh Fork Elementary School.

After a short march from the school to the gates of Massey Energy's coal preparation plant, the crowd is greeted by loads of state police and a K-9 unit guarding the entrance to the plant.
After a short march from the school to the gates of Massey Energy's coal preparation plant, the crowd is greeted by loads of state police and a K-9 unit guarding the entrance to the plant.

About 150 people assembled to deliver demands to Massey.
About 150 people assembled to deliver demands to Massey.

Rev. Allen Johnson (center left in red ball cap) opens the rally with a prayer.

The crowd sings "Amazing Grace."
The crowd sings "Amazing Grace."

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