Archives for posts with tag: Coal

79 Heather Doyle

Activists paddled a boat across the massive Shumate coal slurry impoundment in Raleigh County, in an attempt to draw attention to state inaction on the controversial and deadly 2.8 billion-gallon toxic cesspool that hovers precariously in the West Virginia mountains.

As part of a series of protests coordinated by the courageous Ramps Campaign, the two women held banners addressed to West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, “Slurry Poisons Appalachia” and “Gov. Tomblin, Put Health Over Profit.” Another Ramps activist has reportedly locked himself to a barrel of black water in front of Gov. Tomblin’s mansion.

“I’m participating in this action in solidarity with the Appalachian people who live every day slowly being poisoned by their own drinking water,” Pipestem, West Virginia-native Heather Doyle said in a released statement.

A federal study on slurry impoundments in West Virginia, released this spring, found that most earthen-walled impoundments failed to meet certain standards.

Earlier this summer, a broad range of citizens groups filed a formal petition for a federal takeover of the state regulatory program, citing “systemic failures to properly assess the risks of flooding from mine sites, drastic understaffing, and failure to assess meaningful penalties for violations of the law.”

In November, a coal miner died at a Harrison County coal slurry impoundment. His body wasn’t found for a week. In neighboring eastern Kentucky, the bottom walls of a coal slurry impoundment broke 13 years ago, releasing over 300 million gallons of toxic coal slurry into the Tug Fork River in Martin County.

Coal slurry impoundments abound in the West Virginia mountains–and in all coal mining communities, such as Illinois–including the nearby class “C” Brushy Fork impoundment, one of the largest impoundments in the nation. According to past mining records, down-slope residents below Brushy Fork would have less than 15 minutes to escape a 72-foot tidal wave of coal slurry, if a significant break occurred.

“I grew up in Eunice drinking water poisoned by coal slurry, went to Marsh Fork Elementary under that dam, breathed the dust from that prep plant, and I’ve suffered the lifelong health consequences of that,” said Junior Walk of Rock Creek, at today’s protest. “These same abuses are taking place today across our great state, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Gov. Tomblin.”

“Our politicians and regulators say that it’s safe to dump slurry in our communities, but they don’t want it on their doorstep. Gov. Tomblin could order to coal industry to install filter presses that would eliminate slurry while creating jobs for less than a dollar a ton,” said Chuck Nelson, a retired UWMA coal miner from nearly Glen Daniel. “That’s the way it also goes. Our Governor puts the interests of the coal industry above the health of our communities.”

68 kingsnorth climber

Editorial – The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

Sometimes, the most effective protest crosses the boundaries of law. That does not mean activists should be free to commit crimes just to draw attention to good causes. Rather, there are times when direct action can actually change the law, nudging it into closer alignment with what the protester sees as natural justice.

One such case is that of the Kingsnorth Six, who in 2007 broke into a coal-fired power station, shut it down and defaced it. They argued in court that the damage they caused prevented a worse harm: destruction of the climate.

The story is told in our Review section today and in a film collaboration between documentary-maker Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace, hosted by the Observer online. It shows the potential for extraordinary courage shown by ordinary people when motivated by ideals.

It so happens that the ideal of saving the world from climate change is a noble one. But the theoretical argument that direct action is justified in the name of a greater good leads on to morally complex terrain. It can be deployed by all sorts of zealots who think their cause trumps the law.

That is why the key to the Kingsnorth Six story is their trial by jury. Expert testimony and scientific evidence were presented to support the claim that closure of the power station, even for the few hours that the protest lasted, averted terrible harm to the climate. Such is the toxicity of coal smoke. The court concurred; the activists were acquitted.

That outcome would under any circumstances have made it a landmark case. But given the profound moral implications of the Kingsnorth Six defence – that burning filthy fossil fuels amounts to a crime against the planet – it is especially significant, and gratifying, that a jury of their peers agreed.


ANZ has again been the target of hoaxers, hundreds of ATMs nationwide yesterday being plastered with “out of order” signs.

Spokesman for the protest who identifies himself only as “Katso” said the action was in response to ANZ’s support for Whitehaven Coal.

“We believe that ANZ is out of order in its unethical funding of coal projects,” he said.

“We’re calling on ANZ to stop funding dangerous coal expansion and shift to investments in renewable energy.”

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan put out a fake press release, dated January 7, purporting to be from ANZ and announcing the withdrawal of a $1.2 billion loan for Whitehaven Coal.

The false report sent Whitehaven Coal shares down 8.8 per cent until news of the hoax spread and trading was halted.

Katso said his group supported Mr Moylan’s “act of peaceful civil disobedience”. “As climate change dramatically worsens, people of conscience must stand up against coal, gas and oil.”

Paper “out of order” signs were taped to ATMs around Hobart yesterday, including in the Elizabeth St mall and at Eastlands.

But ANZ was unfazed, saying it was “a temporary inconvenience”. A spokesman said the bank did not use paper signs when ATMs are out of order.