Thursday, February 18, 2010


Activists from Climate Ground Zero "occupied" the offices of Massey Energy subsidiary Marfork Coal Co. to protest violations at the company's huge Brushy Fork slurry impoundment. Three men, including Climate Ground Zero Founder Mike Roselle were arrested. The activists presented what they called "a citizen's arrest warrant" for Blankenship and Marfork President Christopher Blanchard, including a list of violations at the Marfork processing plant, the Bee Tree Surface Mine and the Brushy Fork sludge dam.

Climate Ground Zero, based in Rock Creek, is waging an ongoing campaign of civil disobedience as it tries to stop the particularly destructive form of Appalachian strip mining, and Massey is a main target.

Massey Energy issued a statement describing the three as "domestic terrorists."  

Takes me back to my youth and the Jefferson Airplane lyrics, "We are all outlaws in the eyes of Amerika."

The following is from Climate Ground Zero.

Protestors Occupy Marfork Coal Co.'s Office in Response to Mounting Violations

Contact: Mike Roselle (304 854 1852), Charles Suggs (304 854 7372),

Mike Roselle, Joe Hamsher, and Tom Smyth walk with purpose towards the Marfork Coal Company office this morning. The three activists peacefully entered the office to deliver a citizen's arrest warrant for Christopher Blanchard and Don Blankenship, the CEOs of Marfork and Massey, who are responsible for the destruction of Coal River Mountain and for numerous violations on their sites. Photo by Cheshire/Climate Ground Zero

Pettus, W.Va.– Three occupied Massey Energy subsidiary Marfork Coal Company, Inc.’s main office this morning at eight.  The protestors plan to present a citizen’s arrest warrant and list of violations on the Marfork processing plant, Bee Tree Surface Mine and Brushy Fork sludge impoundment to company president Christopher Blanchard and Massey CEO Don Blankenship.
Brushy Fork Impoundment activity
The above image shows two areas, in purple, where Massey Energy is blasting dangerously close to the Brushy Fork Impoundment and multiple gas wells. The tree sit was right next to the #2 Haul Road. Click the image for a larger version.

Marfork Coal Co. has started work on the Bee Tree Surface Mine, and is blasting within 1,000 feet of the impoundment. The blasting threatens to decrease the stability of the Brushy Fork dam, which sits above a honeycomb of abandoned underground mines.
Just last week, the W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection issued a violation on the impoundment for failing to meet an engineering safety factor. This measurement determines how much force a structure can withstand beyond the amount that is expected to be exerted upon it. At the time of the issuance, the dam could withstand thirty percent additional force, rather than the fifty percent mandated by law.

The WVDEP was acting under a ten-day notice issued to them by the federal Office of Surface Mining.
“What’s sad is that the federal government has to go in,” said Joseph Hamsher of Charleston, W.Va., one of the protestors occupying the office. “You just know that someone up the road is telling the West Virginia DEP not to give Massey any more violations.”

If the Brushy Fork impoundment breaks, a 38.49-foot wall of water will arrive in Sylvester, a town 4.8 miles downriver, within 36 minutes. By Massey Energy’s own estimates, the disaster would kill 998 people.
“I won’t stop breaking the law until they do,” said Mike Roselle, who along with Hamsher and Tom Smyth, intends to stay in the office until Marfork Coal Co. suspends blasting operations.

Marfork Coal Company Violations on Coal River Mountain
Drainage violations on Marfork Coal Co.’s Brushy Fork impoundment, processing plant & refuse pile
Water violations on the Brushy Fork sludge impoundment

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