Coalfield supporters hold candlelight vigil
mountains outside coal expo
October 19, 2005
Photos by Janet Keating
After the first day of the Coal Quality '05 expo, activists gathered
near the Huntington hotel where many of the expo attendees were staying.
They gathered under the bright moonlight in a candlelight vigil, held to
show their support for ending what many called a coal travesty.
The activists claim that the processing of coal is poisoning coalfield
communities. To store the waste created when coal is processed, coal
companies build chemical-laden sludge impoundments. Many worry that the
sludge spills, leaks or is purposely injected underground, contaminating
streams, groundwater and well water. They worry that the impoundments
could fail catastrophically, as did a Massey Energy impoundment on
October 11, 2000.
Highlighted by the glimmer of their candles, the activists also
denounced mountaintop removal coal mining.
I'm here to protest the destruction of our mountains" said Michael
Morrison, a resident of Salt Rock. "There is no such thing as clean
coal! added Morrison, a member of OVEC.
The event, sponsored by OVEC and Mountain Justice, highlighted the
Marsh Fork Elementary in Raleigh County, W.Va, where Massey Energy
has built a coal processing plant and sludge impoundment above the
Massey's behavior is unforgivable, especially because
alternatives to coal sludge impoundments do exist, said Winnie Fox
of Huntington of the highly controversial situation.
The proximity of the Goals Coal processing facility and Marsh Fork
Elementary underscores has problems with the industrys chosen methods
to wash coal and impound the waste.
Earlier this year several coalfield residents, including parents and
grandparents of students at the school, were arrested trying to take
demands for change to Massey officials. Ed Wiley, who has a
granddaughter at the school, staged a sit in on the State Capitol steps
to get the governor to address the issue.
Wiley now feels the governor has not come through on his promises
and was quoted earlier in the summer saying, The governor told me he
cared about these children. Now the Department of Education won't test
for coal dust or chemicals, and the Department of Health and Human
Services refused to conduct a health survey. Why would the governor do
us so wrong?"
Activists and community members continue their protest at the Coal
Quality expo today, with a march that begins at Pullman Square at 3:30
p.m. Theyll march to the conference center, site of the expo, and then
to the Federal Building on 5th Ave., where the Army Corps of Engineers,
a federal regulating body for the coal industry, is housed.
pictures of the event.
|Folks begin to gather before the candlelight
you hear that mountain destroyers? Back off our homeland! Back
our off culture!
|If you can't see the candles, if you can't read
the signs, can you hear our song? We will save our homeland!