Masses Amass Again Against Massey
May 31, 2005
Photos by Vivian Stockman
Locals, and Mountain Huggers Everywhere, Want Changes Near Kids'
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
-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
Below and on the following pages are some photos
from the May 31 rally.
People begin to assemble outside Marsh Fork Elementary
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.
Rev. Allen Johnson (center left in red ball cap) opens the
rally with a prayer.
The crowd sings "Amazing