On the Ground Report From Spruce No.1 Mine

Despite EPA Veto, Mountaintop Removal Continues at West Virginia’s Largest Surface Mine

The Spruce No. 1 mine is perhaps most famous for being the first and only mine in history to have its US Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit vetoed by the US Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the Clean Water Act. If constructed, it would be the largest mountaintop removal mine in Appalachia, spanning 3,113 acres and creating six valley fills that would permanently fill six miles of streams, and directly impact more than ten miles of streams.The EPA’s landmark decision was hailed by environmentalists as a great victory, and as a signal that the EPA would use it’s authority under the Clean Water Act to end the illegal practice of burying streams under hundreds of feet of mining spoils.  Yet since 2007, the Spruce No. 1 mine has produced 1.58 million tons of coal and employed an annual average of 24 miners, and to those who live below the mine it seems as if Arch Coal is acting like the permit was never vetoed at all.

On Sunday, February 20th, Climate Ground Zero’s investigative team went to the Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Virginia to do a citizens’ site inspection.  Here is what we saw.

–Mike Roselle
All Photographs (c) Antrim Caskey, 2011

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12 Replies to “On the Ground Report From Spruce No.1 Mine”

  1. Mr Roselle obviously has no safety training at all, to stand that close to a highwall with not so much as a hard hat on. Can’t he see the large stones at his feet that have fallen? I have to hope the young students he will surely recruit are better safety trained. I’ve said it before, someone is going to be hurt or killed in these invasions. Maybe these pic’s should be forwarded to msha?

  2. This is unbelievable. Where is the enforcement?The EPA?
    and where are the people whose lives this great calamity must have touched?Why arent they protesting?

  3. Most of the residents of this area have sold out for various reasons, but mostly because they did not want to live below the mine. Jimmy Weekely is the last resident of Pigeonroost Hollow, and he has vowed to stay put, and he has been complaining about this since 1995. The EPA has acted only on the 404 Army Corps valley fill permits, which they must approve, and not on the mining permits, which the West Virginia DEP issues. The EPA does have the authority to end MTR, but so far have refused to use that authority due to intense political pressure from coal state politicians. Until citizens demand that the EPA do their job and enforce the Clean Water Act, we will be seeing more and more MTR mines like this go forward, with or without valley fills.

  4. I live in your so called calamity and we are not touched by this. Our creeks run cleaner than they ever have, nothing is better than walking out on our prches and breathing the great southern WV air. This mining has been done following all guidelines, rules and laws of the EPA, further the mining is not being done illegally but rather on permits that have already been set in place not the vetoed permit or it would have been stopped. My questions are these why do you not show Mr. Weekley’s unkept property. The garbage littered about or the multiple rusty junk cars sitting about? Why do you not ask Mr. Weekley why he tells people in the community how he regrets his decisions starting in 1995 how it was just to get more money from the coal company but it snowballed when different environmentalist got hold of his ploy?How he regrets his decision not to except the money he was offered for his property? How his actions have left him a sick lonely man living on his little piece of heaven only getting company when people want to trespass onto coal company property to get pictures, or to get video of him that clearly shows that his actions have cost him the ultimate price, his self respect, and health? Why not ask Mr. Weekley how he used to make his living as a logger raping the very mountains he so loves, and not replanting those trees so they can grow to replace what he has taken? If you are going to tell it please tell the truth let’s not make it up as we go to get the reations you want?

    1. i don’t reckon old “Calamity” knows a whole lot about the forest around his house to whine about loggers like that.

      even some of the treehuggers know that hardwood trees sprout from the stumps and grow to replace what was logged out. not to mention all the acorns the squirrels have planted and the poplar seeds just waitin’ for some light.

      Its blowing up mountains and removing the soil, roots, stumps, seeds, leaf litter and and what not that destroys forests in Appalachia, not loggers.

      get real.

  5. Thanks for the update. Any information you can provide regarding upcoming direct action would be appreciated. I now live out of state but will be back in the area this summer. Would love to help out.

  6. Should’nt comments at least be posted in order of date and time, or is it the intent of the web site to skew the spirit or meaning of the comment ? ……… Watcher

  7. Hi Watcher:

    Comments are posted in order of date and time. What you are probably referring to is the comment by Logger to Calamity’s post. Logger responded directly to Calamity, therefore putting his/her comment before yours.

    Thanks for your interest in Climate Ground Zero.

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