Contact: Mike Roselle – 304 854 7372
February 25th, 2009
Three arrested at protest above Shumate Dam on the Edwight Mountain Top Removal mine owned by Performance Coal
On Tuesday, February 25, 2009, at about 2 pm, two members of Climate Ground Zero and a photojournalst were arrested during a protest above the Shumate Dam, a sludge impoundment that holds back 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal waste in a sludge pond in southern West Virginia. The coal waste sits above the Marsh Fork Elementary School and upriver from the towns of Whitesville and Sylvester in the Coal River Valley, about an hour from Beckley, WV.
Since 2005, local citizens have demanded that Marsh Fork Elementary School be moved to protect the children from a massive dam failure like the one that happened in Harriman, Tennessee on December 22 of last year.
“February 26th is the 37th year anniversary of the Buffalo Creek Disaster, when the Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam in Logan County, West Virginia burst four days after having been declared ‘satisfactory’ by a federal mine inspector. The ensuing flood of toxic waste killed 125 people and displaced thousands more”, said Mike Roselle, of Climate Ground Zero, “We cannot allow the Shumate Dam to become another Buffalo Creek Disaster, where many lives and homes are lost and the land and water is poisoned.”
“This dam is unsafe, and the continuing blasting on Clay’s Branch has to stop”, said James McGuinness. “It is illegal, it is immoral, and it puts the lives of people nearby at risk both from flying rock and debris and from the toxic dusts that falls on their homes and gardens.”
“They have no right to destroy this mountain and put more unsafe material behind this unstable dam,” said Mike Roselle. “If the blasting continues, and the Shumate Dam was to fail, thousands of West Virginians would die.”
Clays Branch is part of Cherry Pond Mountain, which stretches east along Rt 3 to Bolt Mountain (Rt 99). Clays Branch is located behind Marsh Fork Elementary School, above the 2.8 billion gallon sludge pond at Shumate and up the left hand fork of Shumate hollow. There is massive MTR blasting currently ongoing –next to an unstable sludge dam, above an elementary school and surrounded by mountain communities.