Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

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This news story originally provided by WV Metro News

May 25, 2005

Environmentalists Rally

Jennifer Smith

Environmentalist, homeowners and parents concerned about the safety of children at Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County held a rally Tuesday to protest the conditions.

Behind the school is a Massey Energy-owned coal-loading silo. Bo Webb, a volunteer with Coal River Mountain Watch, says the chemicals that come from that silo and the sludge pond just up river are causing health problems for the students. Parents say their kids come home with headaches, sore throats and nausea. After a few hours at home, they're feeling fine, but it starts all over again the next day.

Despite pleas from environmental groups, there's been no help from local, county or state government agencies. That's why Webb decided to start going door to door in the community of Sundial, asking parents and grandparents to get involved. The rally and march to the gates of the coal preparation plant was in conjunction with a meeting of Massey shareholders taking place at the same time but in New York City.

Webb says the company is spraying hazardous liquids like chemical bonding agents, Teflon and antifreeze just up wind from the school. In just the last five years, three former teachers have died from cancer, a former student still in her teens passed away from ovarian cancer and a 17-year-old former student is currently battling the same kind of cancer. Webb says that's not a coincidence; its carelessness by the company.

Webb says in order to clean up the air, the water and the health of the people in Sundial, they'll have to make enough noise on their own to get the attention of lawmakers.

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