Charleston, W.Va. – This morning at 7:30 a.m. two activists paddled out onto the 2.8 billion gallon Shumate slurry impoundment in Raleigh County with banners reading, “Slurry Poisons Appalachia” and “Gov. Tomblin, Put Health Over Profit.” Later this morning, one activist locked himself to a barrel of black water in front of Gov. Tomblin’s mansion in a Tyvek suit reading “Locked to Dirty Water”. Activists are calling attention to the failure of the state government to protect its citizens from the abuses of the coal industry and the threats posed by coal slurry disposal.
“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. These same abuses are taking place today across our great state, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Gov. Tomblin,” said Junior Walk of Rock Creek, W.Va. who attended today’s protest at the Governor’s mansion.
Coal slurry, the toxic byproduct of “washing” impurities out of coal before it is sold, has long been a matter of deep concern for area residents. Its common disposal methods have created tragic disasters such as poisoning the public water supplies of Prenter and Eunice, W.Va., and slurry floods in Martin County, Ky., and Buffalo Creek, W.Va.. Despite this, evidence mounts that West Virginia regulators continue to fail at adequately regulating impoundments.