STORIES

One of the reasons I have become so interested in this topic is that my grandmother and her family grew up on a property in West Virginia that has now been sold and mined. It has caused much tension within the family and the surrounding community. Many people need the money that is being offered by the mining companies and choose to look away from the environmental damage. Others want to put an end to it but are silenced by the very companies that took their land. My mother's cousin Connie (last name withheld) wrote an email to my mother explaining what it is like living near an active mining area in West Virginia.

Listen to hear my mother, Kat, talk about her experience growing up on the land that her cousin Connie writes about.

Here is what Connie writes:

We fought this issue out here for many reasons, and for many years. The bottom line is, money talks. Money that the coal company has, money they put in the politicians pockets, money in the businesses pockets, and even money that they put right in your next door neighbor's pocket. I have watched people, in my opinion, sell their soul for a few bucks with no regard to what it's doing not only to their neighbors, but their extended family. And that is not to mention the enviormental part of it.

What I have viewed thus far is that Consolidated Coal Company, (Consol for short), hasn't just bought land, but destroyed beautiful untouched areas, polluted the water, the air.........you name it. They have destroyed a long standing neighborhood and seperated family members from each other. The left over people and property are both devastated.

I personally, unless I am bought out by Consol, have lost the value of everything my grandparents, parents, and myself have worked for.

Across from my mother's house, where my dad once hunted and many natural springs resided, lies a gob dam. It is full of the water waste, which is loaded with toxins, of the washed coal. The over flow goes down the creek in front of her house. The creek at times runs orange, or even black. Lifting from the dam is a dust that settles itself on my dad's car that still is parked in the car port. The dust is thick, white in color with black sharp lines through it. You can measure at least 1/2 inch of new dust per 3 or 4 day period. There is a constant hum that comes from the area as well.

The other dam, the one that was recently finished and soon to be "reclaimed", had a fog that lifted from it, that much of the time appeared orange. Residents in the neigboor above the dam actually had the shingles on their home eated away over time. Ten men in one lane in the adjacent neigboorhood was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in a 5 year period.

The hill across from where our grandparents, and your mom was raised, has been blasted into something unrecognizable to me. They cut EVERY tree down.......which was a ton of em. From what I understand a fine was imposed for this action.  But as we know, that is small pennies for King Coal. The ground is slipping more and more with each rain, making the fear of major flooding hover over your head with each storm. The creek has been filled with debris in that area, and has very little room now to fill with excess water. There is another run off going into the creek in that area.

A beltway is planned.  It will carry the coal to Pennsylvania. It will carry it right in back of all of our houses. You can see it from most back porches.  It will be LOUD, DIRTY. You can already here the underground beltway go under many propertys here.............you can sometimes here the men talking underground. There are large very noisy fans hidden in some areas, more settlement ponds among the woods, and electric sub stations with their radioactivity all over the place now.

I drive up what was once my road to home, filled with realative, friends, our church and school............our history as a family........now I see destruction, dirt, and shadows of what once was.........I wait until it's my turn to leave, hoping I don't get run over by one of the many coal trucks that now travel the road. I pass the time dusting.........dusting because as a result......there is enough dust that I could do it twice a day. By evening I can write my name in dust on my TV.

But Consol instists that is clean.....safe..........and "we'll give you a good deal."............wonder if they can give us a deal good enough to replace all that has been lost............