W.Va grandpa marches on DC for clean air, safe schools
Sun Sep 10, 2006
By Lisa Lambert
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Ed Wiley, a West Virginia grandfather, is marching on Washington, walking hundreds of miles on mountain roads to entreat the federal government to do what local officials won't do: Move a schoolhouse that sits yards away from a coal silo he says makes kids sick.
"This school has to be moved," said Wiley, 49, standing on a two-lane road in the Appalachian coalfields. "This is a toxic site. It has to go."
Goals Coal, a Massey Energy <MEE.N> subsidiary, stores coal waste and chemicals in a 2.8 billion-gallon pond up the mountain from Marsh Fork Elementary, where Wiley's granddaughter attended school. Less than 100 yards (90 m) from the playground, a silo holds coal processed at an adjacent plant.
Wiley, a former coal industry contractor, and his neighbors say the company plans to erect a second silo nearby that will produce even more coal dust and potentially sicken more of Marsh Fork's 220 pupils.
Some of Wiley's neighbors, who have formed an advocacy group called Coal River Mountain Watch, say it's not just schoolchildren who may be at risk. If the pond's chemicals seep into local groundwater, residents could become sick as well. Worse yet, they say if the 21-year-old earthen dam broke, townspeople could drown.
Coal River Mountain Watch found in an informal survey that many students already have asthma or chronic bronchitis.
Company officials could not be reached for comment on the silo location. Massey Energy has maintained in past disputes that it assiduously follows state and federal rules
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Mr. Wiley is up against a GOP-controlled DC. How many of you think he'll get an "audience" with King George? He'd have to agree to come out on the White House lawn and make a plug for W to be the "indefinite president" a la Rocky Vaccaro, or whatever his name was. Then Mr. Wiley would have no guarantee that anything would be done to support his cause. I wish him the best of luck, but he's wasting his time, IMO.