Archives for posts with tag: Massey Energy

From Documentary Website:

ON COAL RIVER takes viewers on a gripping emotional journey into the Coal River Valley of West Virginia — a community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. The film follows a former coal miner and his neighbors in a David-and-Goliath struggle for the future of their valley, their children, and life as they know it.

Ed Wiley is a former coal miner who once worked at a toxic waste facility that now threatens his granddaughter’s elementary school.  When his local government refuses to act, Ed embarks on a quest to have the school relocated to safer ground.  With insider knowledge and a sharp sense of right and wrong, Ed confronts his local school board, state government, and a notorious coal company — Massey Energy — for putting his granddaughter and his community at risk.

Scripps Howard News Service: Fracking wells blamed for polluted water; inspectors overwhelmed.

A widespread method of extracting natural gas by shooting chemical-laced water underground is a growing threat to water supplies in 28 states, say scientists, landowners and environmentalists.

Known as “fracking,” the practice fractures underground rock formations to release vast but otherwise unreachable quantities of natural gas. In cases surfacing around the country, nearby landowners are claiming their water became poisoned shortly after the drilling process began — and they’re convinced frack wells are the cause. But the science of frack wells is uncertain, and the natural gas industry is pushing back hard, saying they’re not to blame. Affected landowners, angry that they’ve been unwittingly subjected to poisoned water, say their frustrations have been compounded by unresponsive regulators who fail to fix their water or hold the drilling companies accountable.

In fact, a Scripps Howard News Service investigation has found:

— Overwhelmed, understaffed state inspectors aren’t keeping up with the booming industry.

— In the last decade, well drillers in Ohio have been cited for 14,409 violations. The violations were from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Mineral Resources Management Division. Many were for small infractions like out-of-date paperwork, but some were for more serious violations like releasing toxic fluids, though sloppy bookkeeping precludes regulators from running computer checks to identify patterns of unresolved violations.

— An oversight system that landowners say is stacked against them, including regulator salaries paid by drilling royalties and political campaigns flush with natural gas-linked financial donations.

More . . .

A CNNMoney video about how fracking threatens local water supplies in Pennsylvania:

Associated Press: For hundreds, lawsuit over coal slurry unresolved.

Eighteen months ago, Christina Doyle packed up her two kids for an eight-hour journey to a West Virginia courthouse, hoping for some resolution to a lawsuit over water pollution she believes caused her daughter’s learning disabilities and slow growth.

This weekend, the 32-year-old who now lives in South Carolina is doing it again. And so will hundreds of others who believe Virginia-based Massey Energy Co. and subsidiary Rawl Sales & Processing have poisoned their water wells with 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry.

The company has denied wrongdoing, though residents say the proof flows from their faucets as red, orange or black water. They say the chemicals in slurry have left them and their children with developmental disabilities, cancers and other maladies.

* * *

The current and former residents of Rawl, Lick Creek, Sprigg and Merrimac are suing Massey for injecting slurry into 1,000 acres of former underground mines between 1978 and 1987. Slurry is created when coal is washed to help it burn more efficiently.

* * *  The company has defended the practice in court documents, arguing mineral rights agreements dating to 1889 give it “the full right to take and use all water found on the premises.”

For decades, coal companies in Appalachia have injected slurry into worked-out mines as a cheap alternative to dams and other systems that can safely store or treat the slurry. The industry says the practice is safe, but critics contend slurry seeps through natural and manmade cracks, eventually contaminating groundwater.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has imposed a temporary ban on new injection sites. Earlier this year, a team of West Virginia University researchers advised lawmakers to start monitoring coal slurry, even though they could not conclusively demonstrate a hazard to public health.

They also claim Massey drilled 40 more holes than it was permitted, pumping water out to relieve pressure and to make room for more waste. That waste came within feet of their homes, and the lawsuit says tests show the slurry “ripples and bubbles through the system in varying degrees, from highly toxic to simply toxic.”

* * *

All Christina Doyle wants is what’s best for her daughter, whose monthly drugs and daily hormone injections would cost more than $3,000 without insurance. Savannah was born without a pituitary gland, which is in the brain and regulates the body’s growth hormones.

The injections cause “horrible mood swings” that make a teenage girl’s life even more difficult. Savannah struggles with homework and cannot have children, said Doyle, who was raised in Lick Creek and lived there while pregnant with her daughter.

Despite Savannah’s problems, she made local news last year when she plunged into a pond to save a drowning 3-year-old neighbor.

Still, Doyle says she’s long been told by specialists that genetics can’t account for her daughter’s poor health.

“I did not do drugs. I did everything right. I took prenatal vitamins,” Doyle says. “I can’t think of anything else it could have been but the water.”

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