Governor Joe Manchin may be popular amongst the leading Democrats in Washington, but with many folks in Raleigh County, West Virginia his name is mud. In Raleigh County’s Coal River Valley sits Marsh Fork Elementary. Marsh Fork is an elementary school that is surrounded by a massive coal mining operation that includes a coal silo train load-out 200 feet away, a preparation plant that uses chemical scrubbers within 250 yards, and a mammoth seeping toxic sludge dam containing over two billion gallons of coal waste pointed directly at the school from 400 yards up hill.
The Marsh Fork sludge dam is an end result of the destructive coal mining plaguing Appalachia. These dams are constructed from the debris of mountaintop removal and the sludge is the waste product of the coal processed for fueling power plants around the country. The coal company operating the plant around Marsh Fork is Massey Energy. You may remember Massy Energy is funded, amongst others, by local San Francisco bank Wells Fargo.
Many of the children’s families want a new school built away from this disaster in the making. They want governor to move it.
A Raleigh County local named Ed Wiley has been waging a campaign to move the school. His granddaughter is a student there and it’s up close and personal for him. At the beginning of August he began walking from Raleigh County to Washington DC to raise awareness and funds about Marsh Fork Elementary. When he arrives in Washington next week, he hopes to meet with West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Every town and community he walks through he gets some sort of support whether it’s waves, cheers or penny donations.