Less Than One Month After New Marsh Fork Elementary School Opens, Removing Children From Harm's Way
Rock Creek, WV -- Less than a month after the new Marsh Fork Elementary School opened in Rock Creek, WV after years of community effort to move the school out of harm's way, Alpha Natural Resources, formerly Massey Energy, has applied for a permit to expand their mountaintop removal operations on Coal River Mountain. The WVDEP will hold a public question and answer session on the permit Thursday 28 February in Pettus, WV.
Alpha Applies to Blast More of Coal River Mountain - Images by antrim caskey
One couple sat quietly on folding chairs in the school gymnasium, he a strip miner; a letter taped to their door indicated that a strip mine will come above their homes and the miner says that his personal beliefs conflict with his job so he can't say any more. "It's our property. We're gonna see what will happen." He sits, arms folded, red-faced and excuses himself for a cigarette. His wife waves her hands upwards from her lap and lightly back down, smiling, " Well I love coal," you can write that down. It is their son that lives in the house up McDowell Hollow. "I know what's coming, I work on a strip job," said the father, who requested not to be named along with his wife.
The public session also included the facility to enter your comment opposing or supporting the permit at a table with a microphone and tape recorder set at the back of the gymnasium.
WVDEP Records Public Comment - Images by antrim caskey
Rushing in shortly before the public session was to end came Jane Stover, of McDowell Holler, in the Clear Fork watershed area. "I just heard about this. I got 20 some acres."
Blasting 1850 Feet From Your Home - Images by antrim caskey
Examining the large topographical map of the area, Stover identified her home on the map and WVDEP engineer GK Demyan measured the distance from her home to the closest edge of the permit: 1850 feet. "We built our home. We're the only ones who've ever lived there," said Stover, whose home lays within the seven-tenths of a mile radius - designated the pre-blast survey zone - so that the WVDEP will be sampling her water, though when city water is already piped in, the DEP has no requirement to test the well water, though still they do, for their own liability, clarified GK Demyan, engineer, Division of Mining and Reclamation, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. While saying that "ground water is really not affected by mining," geologist with the WVDEP Tina White, said that they will work to incapsulate selenium if they find it in layers thicker than one foot. "They do have a problem with it in Logan," she said, but the "only place we saw selenium [in this permit] was McDowell Branch."