Coalfield citizens arrested delivering demands
to Massey headquarters
VA—Concerned parents and other citizens of Coal River
Valley, West Virginia, with support from Mountain Justice participants, today delivered a list of demands to
Massey Energy's headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, insisting
that Massey respond. Two were arrested for trespassing when
they refused to leave the premises until Massey responded
to their demands.
"I promised my son that I would not send him back to
that school," said Herb Elkins of Coal River Valley,
who was one of the two arrested. "His health and peace
of mind are too important. No child should have to attend
class in a climate of fear."
Previous rallies at Massey's Goals Coal Companyoperations
adjacent to Marsh Fork Elementary School in Sundial, W. Va.,
led to 18 arrests. The citizens are demanding that Massey
shut down its preparation plant, coal silo, 1,849-acre mountaintop
removal coal mine and 2.8 billion-gallon coal sludge dam—a
toxic waste storage facility—at the kindergarten through
Hannah Thurman of Liberty, W.Va., was also arrested. "We're
simply asking that Massey treat these children and the Coal
River community with respect," said Thurman. "For
the sake of the kids, Massey needs to do the right thing."
Handcuffed, Thurman and Elkins shouted, "Save the kids
at Marsh Fork Elementary!" as they were loaded into the
"It breaks my heart to send my granddaughter to that
school," said Ed Wiley of Coal River Valley. "Coal
dust and chemicals on the playground and in the air system
cannot be good for kids. These are their formative years;
they shouldn't be breathing coal dust." The coal silo
stores powdered coal and loads rail cars 150 feet from school
grounds. After loading, the operation sprays a binding agent
over the coal.
Other demands are that Marsh Fork Elementary School be cleaned
up or that a safe, new school be built in the local community;
that Massey withdraw its application for a second coal loading
silo behind the school; that Massey stop blasting near residents'
homes; and that Massey shut down its surface mine sites and
invest in true sustainable energy.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) is considering Massey's application to construct a second
silo next to the first. At a May 26 hearing, the DEP allowed
residents only two minutes each to voice their concerns over
the silo application and also over the renewal of Massey's
permit to operate the toxic waste storage facility. Despite
residents' protests, in 2004 the DEP approved Massey's permit
to operate the mountaintop removal site above the school.
At a rally on May 24, two Coal River Valley residents were
arrested when they were refused admittance to present their
demands at the Goals operation. On May 31, sixteen people
were arrested, including an 82-year-old grandmother, while
delivering the same demands.
Further information: www.crmw.net,
Two arrested in protest at Massey
Activists seek closing of firm's coal-mining complex near
school in W.Va. town
BY GREG EDWARDS
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jun 30, 2005
Herb Elkins and Hanna Thurman were led
out of the Massey building at Fourth and
Main streets in Richmond yesterday after
being arrested when they refused to leave the
premises as part of a protest
Police arrested two West Virginia activists for trespassing
yesterday as they demonstrated at Massey Energy Co.'s offices
in downtown Richmond.
Hanna Thurman and Herb Elkins of Coal River Mountain Watch
were led in handcuffs from a vestibule at Massey's Fourth
Street office building after they refused requests from police
to leave the property.
The small entranceway contains a phone that visitors must
use to gain access to the main part of the building. Thurman
and Elkins were attempting to deliver their groups' demands
that Massey close its coal-mining operation near an elementary
school in the Coal River Valley community of Sundial, roughly
30 miles south of Charleston.
Richmond police began arriving at the building around 11:20
a.m., roughly 20 minutes after the demonstration began. Officers
talked with Thurman and Elkins for nearly 40 minutes before
making the arrests. Police also warned other demonstrators
that they would be arrested if they blocked the sidewalk in
front of the building.
As she was led away, Thurman hollered repeatedly: "Shut
down the prep plant," referring to a coal-preparation
plant a few hundred feet from the school. A dozen other demonstrators
watched and shouted: "Massey, save the kids."
Yesterday's demonstration was part of an ongoing effort by
Coal River Mountain Watch and two other groups, Mountain Justice and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, aimed
at Massey's operation near the 280-student Marsh Fork Elementary
School. It also appeared to be part of a broader effort by
activist groups to end mountain-top removal strip mining in
Besides the coal-preparation plant, Massey operates a strip
mine and coal-slurry pond on the ridges behind the school.
On May 31, 16 people, including an 82-year-old grandmother,
were arrested at a demonstration at the mine site.
Demonstrators want the coal plant and strip mine shut down.
They are also demanding that Massey stop blasting near their
homes, withdraw an application to expand the coal plant and
clean the elementary school or move it.
Coal River Valley resident Ed Wiley said his granddaughter
Kayla attends the school. He said he worries about the soundness
of the dam at the slurry pond nearby, the chemicals used at
the preparation plant and the runoff from the strip mine.
"Children playing [in the schoolyard], their feet get
black with coal dust."
Bo Webb, a miner's son and Vietnam veteran who recently returned
to the valley to live, accused Massey of terrorizing valley
residents. By its blasting and other mining activities, Massey's
Goals Coal Co. subsidiary is forcing out families who have
lived in the valley for centuries and intends to eventually
mine their land, Webb charged.
"With all due respect," responded Massey spokeswoman
Katharine Kenny, "we couldn't stay in business if we
operated with less than the high ethical standards that we
have." Massey is the fourth-largest U.S. coal producer.
She responded to charges by protesters that the coal-slurry
dam is leaking and that the coal plant poses a health threat.
The dam, she said, has been inspected by federal and state
inspectors, and chemicals used in its coal plant are approved
and commonly used.
Jessica Greathouse, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department
of Environmental Protection, confirmed that the slurry pond
complies with state laws.
In a statement, Massey said a great deal of misinformation
has been spread about activities at its Goals preparation
plant, but the regulatory process is the place to express
any concerns. Massey designs its mines beyond what its required
for pollution prevention and control and is committed to environmental
stewardship, the company said.
After her release around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Thurman,
a recent newcomer to the Coal River valley, said that she
had no regrets about her arrest and that said she staged her
protest for the children at the school and her neighbors.
Mine Workers Association songs about Massey being a bad
Click here to see more actions.