3.19.2007

Mountain Justice Spring Break

















Charleston,W. Va.—Eleven parents, community leaders and student activists were
arrested today while sitting in at the office of West Virginia
Governor Joe Mancin. Their sit-in was spurred by a recent decision by
the State Mine Board to approve a second coal silo nearMarsh Fork
Elementary School. Protesters were treating roughly and dragged
through puddles of mud. About 40 protesters remain in the governor's
office. Marsh Fork Elementary located near Sundial, WV currently sits
225 feet from a coal silo. Residents say Governor Joe Manchin is
shirking his responsibility for the health and safety of the students.

The coal silo operated by Massey Energy releases chemical-laden coal
dust into the air which is poisoning the air that school kids have to
breathe. Independent studies have found coal dust throughout the
school. The school is also 400 yards downstream from a 385 foot tall
seeping toxic coal waste sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon
capacity, over 20 times the volume of the Buffalo Creek sludge dam
disaster that killed 125 people in 1972. A 1,849-acre mountaintop
removal mine surrounds the sludge dam and much of the nearby area.

"Governor Mancin seems to believe that all he has to do is make
promises while the children who attend Marsh Fork continue to breathe
in coal dust," says Bill Price of
Charleston, WV. "We are not interested in promises. We want a new
school for these kids so that they do not have to breathe in polluted
air while they are trying to learn."

"This is exciting that students and community members have joined
together to demand a safer school for the kids who attend Marsh Folk
Elementary," says Sarah Kidder, a student at Glenville State College
and a key protest organizer. "These kids should not have to endanger
their lives simply by going to school and having to breathe in air
polluted by coal dust."

Massey has been attempting to build a second coal silo near the
school, but the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in
2005 rejected Massey's permit request for the second silo. On Tuesday,
March 13, the state Surface Mine Board overturned the DEP's order that
blocked the silo.

"The situation at Marsh Fork is an embarrassment to West Virginia,"
said Lindsey Warf of
Bluefield, WV. "People from other states can't believe this is happening in the
US."

Contrary to Massey's public claim that the silo would reduce coal
dust, their 2005 air quality permit application associated with the
second silo's operation predicts an increase in coal dust emissions by
three and a half tons of dust per year.

TAKE ACTION!
Call Governor Manchin's office: 1-888-438-2731 (toll free) or 1-304-558-2000.
Send a FAX 1-304-342-7025
Email the Governor's office: Governor@WVGov.org.

more photos here