Activists stop strip mining machine on Coal River Mountain

Activists stop strip mining machine on Coal River Mountain
       
        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  July 14, 2010
        Contact: Charles Suggs – 304 854 7372
        Email: [email protected]
        Note: www.climategroundzero.org and www.mountainjustice.org
       
       
“It was usually  around July you could go up there and sit and it was like the annual  bear gathering up there… The whole area was full of laurels. The bears  had tunnels through them, it was so thick…What’s going on today you  know with the Brushy Fork of course, that whole area has just about been  stripped out now, and that’s all been taken away.” Ed Wiley on Coal  River Mountain.
       

       
MARFORK, W.Va. –  Protestors associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice have  locked to and shut down a highwall miner on Coal River Mountain today.  Colin Flood, 22, and Katie Huszcza, 21, are locked to the mining  equipment on Massey Energy’s Bee Tree Surface Mine, near to the Brushy  Fork Sludge Impoundment.  Their banner states “Save Coal River Mountain”  alongside images of ginseng, a morel, a deer and a bear.
       
The human  rights activists locked down in order to bring attention to the many  local resources that will be lost if blasting on Coal River Mountain  continues. This destruction led the four protesters, including  22-year-old Jimmy Tobias and 20-year-old Sophie Kern, both of whom acted  as direct support, to take part in the action. “These mountains are  home to some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the  world and contain a variety of precious flora and fauna including edible  and medicinal plants that can save lives, a wide array of extremely  nutritious mushrooms, old growth forest and an abundance of deer and  trout,” Huszcza said. “Coal River Mountain is priceless.”
       
Local resident  Ed Wiley laments the loss of wildlife caused by the construction of the  Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment, built in what was once some of the  densest, oldest forest on the mountain.
       
“You could look  off through the woods there and see a big Mamma bear with three or four  cubs,” he says “But now they go on in there and remove the timber, and  then start removing the overburden, and Momma bears with their cubs  don’t come out of their dens until about the end of May, so they’re  getting buried alive.”
       
“When the timber is gone, when the  topsoil is gone, when the air and water are destroyed, the less than 4  percent of our nation’s energy needs that mountaintop removal provides  will be small consolation,” said Flood, one of the four protestors, “The  coal companies and land companies are blasting this land, ruining its  rivers and poisoning its people for the sake of flat screen TVs, pick-up  trucks and profit margins.”
       
The activists are  spotlighting dangers associated with the massive Brushy Fork Sludge  Impoundment, which is permitted to contain 8.2 billion gallons of toxic  coal waste and estimates put the current level at seven billion gallons.   Brushy Fork’s foundation is built on a honeycomb of abandoned  underground mines. If the foundation were to collapse, as in Martin  Co., Ky., the slurry would engulf communities as far as 14 miles  away, according to Marfork Coal Co.’s emergency  warning plan regarding the impoundment.
       
“The Brushy  Fork sludge dam places the downstream communities in imminent danger.  The threat of being inundated by a wall of toxic sludge is always  present.  Blasting next to this dam increases this risk at the same that  it destroys the opportunity for renewable wind energy,” said Vernon  Haltom, co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch, in reference to the Coal River Wind Project.
       
“The protesters  expect a long fight before blasting on Coal River Mountain stops and  they remain committed to that fight,” said Tobias, one of the members of  the support team. “This is a fight for the heart of Appalachia and the  soul of America,” he said. “Land and freedom have always gone hand in  hand. When you strip bare the land, you strip bare freedom. We won’t  stop until the land is safe in the hands of those in the community who  care for it.”
       
“It [the destruction of wilderness]  makes mountaintop removal an act of treason,” Flood said.
       
Climate Ground  Zero’s action campaign, begun in February of last year, has kept up a  sustained series of direct actions since that time, continuing  decades-long resistance to strip mining in Appalachia.

       

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