THE POWER OF LIES - Buffalo Creek 40 Years Ago

(02/23/2012)

By Bob Weaver

Forty years ago Sunday was the Buffalo Creek Disaster, a coal company containment dam broke through and killed 125 people in Logan County, mostly children, injured 1,100 and left 4,000 homeless.

The coal company and then Gov. Arch Moore declared it an "act of God," which was far from the truth.

God has always been busy with taking the lives of people in minining diasters.

The struggle for families to be compensated a little took about 25 years, a little it was.

Today, in West Virginia, hundred's of coal waste dams loom over communities, but regulators say the public is much safer from a repeat of 1972.

In Martin County, Kentucky in 2000, a Massey dam collapsed spilling 300 million gallons of slurry, ending up in Big Sandy River along the West Virginia-Kentucky border, It was one of the nation's major environmental disasters, 28 times larger than the Exxon-Valdez spill in Alaska.

It covered the area with seven feet of sludge, killing all the fish in the rivers, but it received minimal attention, as the Bush administration rejected a National Academy of Science recommendation for more inspections and regulations.

Since then, the coal industry, West Virginia politicians and Republicans in Washington continue to call for deregulation, particularly with mountaintop removal and its' spill.

After years of struggle and protest, Marsh Fork Elementary School in Raleigh County has been closed and a new school has been built, the school standing a few feet from a Massey processing plant and just down hill from an ominus dam with billions of gallons of toxic sludge.

West Virginians are still held hostage to declining coal jobs vs. the health and safety of its citizens.

The Buffalo Creek disaster was a personal turning point for me and how I view the power of government and some corporations to lie to people, learning the meaning of oppression.

Every year since 1972 I have done something to remind myself and the citizens of the Mountain State about the Buffalo Creek travesty and insult to humankind.


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