|The attorney for 154 Sylvester
residents said Elk Run Coal Company has
poured tons of coal dust on the town for four years
while refusing to take reasonable steps to stop
"Massey Energy's Elk Run operation is a
terrible neighbor," Charleston attorney Brian
Glasser said in opening statements this week at the Boone County courthouse.
The residents suing Massey Energy
are asking the
court to order
Elk Run to stop the dust fall and reimburse
them for damages the dust has caused.
"There is no coal process, coal mining facility, anywhere -- anywhere --
that has taken as many measures as Elk Run has to suppress dust,"
said the company attorney in an opening statement.
The trial started with home videos from plaintiffs that show
Sylvester residents with dust coating their cars, their homes and even their
Meanwhile, the company has launched a public relations program, TV spots showing generations of a family
a table eating dinner. One middle-aged
man is clearly anxious. He says his mining
company is still waiting for permits and
workers are expecting layoffs. Others at
the table talk about how people in the
community are leaving.
Former WVU Coach Don Nehlen will become a spokesperson for West Virginia Coal interests.
Massey has a long way to go since having one of the largest slurry spills ever recorded, numerous dam breaks
and hundreds of environmental citations, costing the company millions of dollars. Environmental activists claim the company
would likely have spent less money "taking care of business" and being a good environmental neighbor, than the costs of
multiple lawsuits and fines.
The coal industry has blamed environmentalists and government regulators for the reduction in coal mining jobs from over
100,000 to about 15,000, but the reduction is linked to modern mining extraction, the closing of deep mines and rapid
extraction with mountaintop mining.