Definition: Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind -
Extremely close contact with alien creatures, often involving a UFO
Close Encounters of the COAL Kind
by Abraham Mwaura
I was at wits end a few weeks ago. I had been searching for a list of the chemicals that are used to wash coal chemicals that end up in coal sludge impoundments and had no luck at all. In a last-ditch effort I called the West Virginia Coal Association and left a message that I was looking for information about what chemicals were used in the process of washing coal. My call was quickly returned.
"Hello, this is OVEC. Can I help you?" I started with my usual greeting. It was Jason Bostic from the WVCA, returning my call.
"Can I speak to Abraham?" he asked, a little unsure of whether he had the right number.
"This is Abraham."
"Oh. You had called wanting to know about the chemicals used to wash coal?"
"Oh. OK. Ummm. Did you say you were with OVEC?"
"Ya. Im with OVEC."
"If you dont mind me asking, why are you interested in this information?"
"Well, some coalfield residents whom we work with have raised these chemicals as a concern."
"Oh. Well, they use water and magnetite to clean the coal."
"Is that all they use?"
"Oh ya. The magnetite makes the coal separate from the waste in the water."
"And thats all they use?"
Needless to say, opening the conversation with "This is OVEC," proved to be my downfall, and his information was completely useless to me. I have since gone on to find many of the over 60 chemicals that are used to make the mixtures used in washing coal. OVEC will be posting that information to our website soon.
As you can well imagine, the information is scary. Bear in mind that, concerned about health effects from exposure to the chemicals used in washing coal, some coal preparation plant workers are suing the manufactures of the chemicals.
Coalfield residents are right to have grave concerns about these chemicals, as is anyone who drinks water.
by Viv Stockman
Early in the morning, I unload OVECs E-Day! table goodies inside the State Capitols loading dock. After parking my car, I borrow a hand-truck and head toward the freight elevator so I can retrieve our display items.
I wait. The door opens, but the elevator is jammed full of sugar-death-water in colorful cans. Its the bottlers, taking their sickening-sweet product upstairs. I wait some more. The door opens again, and again the elevator is packed with pop.
Then around the corner walks Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association (WVCA).
"Herr Raney," I say. "Hello, Vivian," he says.
"How about a ride," he asks pointing to the hand-truck. "I cant be responsible for accidents," I say. (Later, someone suggested I should have said that any accident would be an act of God. Why not? Thats the standard coal company excuse.)
"Wheres the rest of the FOCers?" I ask. Raney feigns puzzlement.
"You know, the FOC-U crew? Friends of Coal United. Hammy told me that." Thats Raneys sidekick, Chris Hamilton.
"Oh yeah," Raney half-laughs. "We came up with that last year."
"Flown over the destruction you are permitting anytime recently?" I ask.
"Ive been up in the air," he says.
"I thought youd be taking the Senators elevator," I say.
The elevator door opens again, and theres yet another load of sugar-death-water going up, but theres room for Raney. I go find another elevator.
I tell a few people at E-Day! about my encounter with Bill. More than one wonders, jokingly of course, why I didnt plant my rather larger boot squarely on his behind.
But Raney is only the front man, the yes-man, the gopher out doing the bidding of coal industry CEOs, like Arch Coals Steven Leer (who raked in about $3,495,000 last year in salary and unexercised options), Massey Energys Don Blankenship ($6,780,000), Consol Energys Brett Harvey ($737,000, salary only), Peabody Energys Irl Englehardt ($1,773,000) and good ole James "Buck" Harless (figures unavailable).
Those guys practice violence daily as they massacre the mountains, bury streams and run roughshod over the democratic process. Even so, Ill keep my boots to myself. We the people, standing united, dont need to resort to Coal Baron tactics to get our way. We will eventually prevail, nonviolently.