W Va residents worry that blasting could cause massive spill

Residents in and around Pettus, W. Va., gathered at the gate of the Marfork Coal Company earlier this week to protest the company’s plans to start blasting on Coal River Mountain, warning that Massey Energy’s coal mining operation efforts could weaken an eight-billion-gallon coal sludge dam, according to the Virtualization/PRNewswire-USNewswire. The dam in question is about 10 times larger than the coal ash pond that in December spilled more than a billion gallons of toxic material over 300 acres of rural east Tennessee.

“I fear for my friends and all the people living below this coal sludge dam,” Gary Anderson, a resident who lives near the mountain site, told the media. “Blasting beside the dam, over underground mines, could decimate the valley for miles. The ‘experts’ said that the Buffalo Creek sludge dam was safe, but it failed. They said that the TVA sludge dam was safe, but it failed. Massey is setting up an even greater catastrophe here.”

The protest was manned by residents and organized by pan-Appalachian Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero. Organizations such as the Civil Society Institute and theCLEAN.org joined in on the fight. Those against the blasting are urging the mountaintop removal be replaced by a wind farm, arguing that a wind farm would provide more tax revenue and more jobs over time.

Experts worry that if the dam at Coal River Mountain experienced the same fate as the TVA coal ash pond in December, thousands more people could be affected and far more property destroyed.