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Alpha Natural Resources Sued for Desecrating Family Cemetary with Mountain Top Removal Mine

30 Aug

by Associated Press / Washington Post

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Maria Gunnoe/Associated Press - In this June 2010 aerial photo released Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 by Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, mining equipment is seen on a mountain top near a cemetery is inside the forested area on that tiny knob of land in the middle of the mine complex. Six southern West Virginia residents are suing Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources over damage to a family

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Maria Gunnoe/Associated Press – In this June 2010 aerial photo released Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 by Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, mining equipment is seen on a mountain top near a cemetery is inside the forested area on that tiny knob of land in the middle of the mine complex. Six southern West Virginia residents are suing Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources over damage to a family

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Six southern West Virginia residents are suing Alpha Natural Resources to stop further damage to a family cemetery they say has become “an island in the sky,” barely accessible and literally surrounded by a massive mountaintop-removal mining operation.

They sued Virginia-based Alpha and its Independence Coal Co. subsidiary in Boone County Circuit Court last week after discovering that activity at the Twilight Surface Mine has come within 30 feet of their ancestors’ graves in Jarrell Cemetery.

But Alpha spokesman Ted Pile said late Wednesday the lawsuit has no merit, and allegations that Alpha has “willfully and maliciously” violated a 100-foot buffer zone, toppled headstones and denied relatives access are false.

Alpha has instead “gone above and beyond the letter and spirit of the permit and the law” to protect both the cemetery and the relatives’ access to it, he said. Alpha also is offended by suggestions it would deliberately harm the cemetery, Pile said.

“Our miners are men and women of character who themselves have lost loved ones in the past and understand what these grave sites stand for and mean,” he said.

The cemetery sits on a tiny knob of tree-topped land in the middle of what the Jarrell family descendants say is one of the biggest strip mines east of the Mississippi.

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