Alpha Headquarters Shut Down By Demonstrators Locked to Tank of Dirty Water


Alpha Headquarters Shut
Down By Demonstrators Locked to Tank of Dirty Water

Residents Protest Mountaintop
Removal Coal Mining, Health Impacts and Sludge Expansion

5 people locked to a barrel and 250-gal tank of dirty water blocking entrance to Alpha Natural Resources' HQ.

Bristol, Va.— Three residents of
Central Appalachia and supporters with Mountain Justice chained
themselves to an industrial tank of black water in front of Alpha
Natural Resources’ Bristol, Va., headquarters to protest Alpha’s
mountaintop removal strip mining and coal slurry operations across
the region.

“I’m risking arrest today because
mountaintop removal has to end now for the future viability of
Appalachia,” says Emily Gillespie of Roanoke, Va., whose work with
the Mountain Justice movement is inspired by Appalachian women’s
history of non-violent resistance. The tank of water represents coal
contamination from affected communities across the Appalachian
region.

The group called for Alpha to stop
seeking an expansion of the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment in
Raleigh County, W.Va. “We want Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha
Natural Resources, to produce a signed document expressing that they
won’t seek the expansion of the Brushy Fork Impoundment before we
leave,” Junior Walk, 23, from the Brushy Fork area said.

“I live downstream from Alpha’s
Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment on Coal River. If that
impoundment breaks, my whole family would be killed,” Walk said,
“Even if it doesn’t, we’re still being poisoned by Alpha’s
mining wastes everyday. I’m here to bring the reality of that
destruction to the corporate authorities who are causing it, but who
don’t have to suffer its consequences.”

More than 20
peer-reviewed studies since 2010 demonstrate a connection between
mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of
kidney, lung, and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects
and early mortality. The ACHE act, currently in sub committee in
Washington, calls for a moratorium on new mountaintop removal
operations until a definitive, non-partisan study can demonstrate the
reason for these community health emergency levels of health impacts.

The impoundment at Brushy Fork holds back almost 5 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is considered the largest earthen dam in the Western hemisphere. Recently leaked records show that coal slurry impoundments in Appalachia failed 59 out of 73 total structural tests performed by the Office of Surface Mining. “Alpha is only profitable because they’re allowed to gamble with our lives—and we’re the ones who pay the cost of their negligence and toxic pollution,” Walk said.

Alpha has lost numerous lawsuits
relating to pollution from mining wastes in recent years, but they
continue to violate safety regulations and expand their hazardous
operations.

After refusing to take responsibility
for the massive floods caused by the King Coal Highway and their
destructive mountaintop removal mining practices, Alpha continues to
push forward similar projects, such as the controversial Coalfields
Expressway in Virginia.

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