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Mountain Justice Spring Break
Charleston, WV — 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 near
Marsh 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. An
1,849-acre mountaintop removal mine surrounds the sludge dam and much of the nearby area.
MJSB youth bring traditional
mountain music to the governor's office.
"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."
What we want!
"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
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.
Call Governor Manchin's office: 1-888-438-2731 (toll free) or 1-304-558-2000 and let him
know that you and most of the rest of the world doesn't believe small children should be
made to go to school in the shadow of a coal processing facility.
Email the Governor's office: Governor@WVGov.org.
Below are two videos from the rally at the state capitol on March 16. Residents and their
supporters demanded a new school for the kids of March fork Elementary in their community.
Thanks to Tommy Bensko for putting these together.