Many of you probably remember Ed Wiley’s courageous long walk from West Virginia to Washington DC last August to raise awareness about his grand-daughter’s elementary school built 225 feet from a Massey Energy coal loading silo and downstream from a 385 foot tall seeping toxic coal waste sludge dam with a nearly 3 billion gallon capacity. A 1,849-acre mountaintop removal mine surrounds the sludge dam and much of the nearby area.
Located in the heart of the Coal River Valley, Marsh Fork Elementary has become the poster child for the local communities struggle with coal giant Massey Energy and Gov. Joe Manchin. Massey Energy has also been advocating to build a second silo next to Marsh Fork Elementary and this week the Surface Mine Board overturned an order that had initially blocked the silo’s construction.
Since this morning over 150 people have been occupying Gov. Joe Manchin’s offices demanding that he build a safe school for the children of Marsh Fork Elementary. It includes dozens of students and community members over the age of 50 (including an 87 year old grandmother celebrating her birthday by getting arrested for the children of Marsh Fork Elementary).