DC is about to witness an uprising!
Appalachia Rising is three days of coalfield residents and activists from across the country standing together for an end to mountaintop removal (MTR), an extremely destructive form of mining where the tops of mountains are blown off to extract the coal seams below.
You can register here for Appalachia Rising, September 25-27 in Washington DC.
I saw firsthand the effects of MTR on Appalachian communities while visiting Rock Creek, WV this past January. Below is a selection of photos that my friend, Phoebe Neel, and I shot while bearing witness to the destruction.
This behemoth of a complex owned by Massey Energy contains the Goals Coal Processing Plant. Above it, sits the Shumate Coal Sludge Impoundment pond, which contains 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal waste. Beyond that is the Edwight mountaintop removal site, whose blasting puts the dam at risk of failing. Also out of the picture is Marsh Fork Elementary, which would be wiped out if such a failure were to occur. Thankfully, the community won a six year fight this past April to build a new school, which will break ground next year.
Just realized that most of my description was for what is NOT shown in this photo. It says something when you need to be that high up to see the extent of the problem.
A 'No Trespassing' notice from Massey Energy in the rubble of a demolished house. Massey bought out the residents of Lindytown, WV one by one so the company could level the town and expand the mountaintop removal site that borders it. Saying the residents had a choice in the matter is a farce - with the noise, dust, and polluted well water that comes with MTR, you trade your health for your home. (Photo by Phoebe Neel.)
This is a wider shot of Lindytown, which shows three homes that have been bulldozed. Surveying the scene, I remember thinking that it could've been the site of a natural disaster - a storm that had decimated the neighborhood. However, this was caused by man and was just a precursor to the much wider destruction of themining to come. Nothing would be rebuilt; those concrete steps would always lead to nowhere.
Maria Gunnoe is a community member and organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. Here, she displays the coal dust wiped from Frankie Mooney's garage in Twilight, WV. The nearby blasting routinely fills the air with coal dust clouds, which then settle on buildings and turn air filters black. If Massey had its way, Twilight would become the next Lindytown - but Frankie's property is closest to the company land and his refusal to sell protects the rest of Twilight from destruction.
The next two photos should be looked at as a pair. This one is of the Bee Tree site in Pettus, WV and the huge earth-moving machines that are used to extract the exposed coal. The striking thing about this for me is that all the rubble is refered to as "fill," which companies like Massey dump into neighboring valleys, burying streams and polluting drinking water. (Photo by Phoebe Neel.)
This last photo is of the Brushy Fork Impoundment, which at 8.2 billion gallons, holds much more coal waste than the Shumate Impoundment. However, it has one important thing in common - it's also located close to an MTR site, where blasting can affect its structural integrity. It lies less than half a mile away from the Bee Tree site. Marfork Coal, a subsidary of Massey Energy, estimates a dam failure could cause a wave of coal sludge as high at 72 ft. (Photo by Phoebe Neel.)
This is just a small selection of what I witnessed in West Virginia. And when you come to DC for Appalachia Rising, you won't see any of these scarred landscapes. But what you will see are more people like Maria Gunnoe - people who refuse to give up and instead are rising up. Join the movement.
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