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Monday, January 23, 2006

Appalachian Treasures: A National Campaign to End Mountaintop Removal

Image left: Coal seams lie deep below the surface therefore, 800 to 1,000 feet of the mountain top is removed, using dynamite, to recover the coal. The white dust at the bottom of this photo is the result of a dynamite explosion. Dennis Burke has stated that more pounds of explosives are used every four days in West Virginia than were used in the entire conflict in Afghanistan.

Launched by Appalachian Voices in March 2005, the Appalachian Treasures project is a national campaign to end the suffering and devastation that mountaintop removal coal mining has brought to the land and communities of Appalachia. Appalachian Voices has sent a full time field organizer out on the road, along with volunteers from Appalachia’s coalfields, and together they are traveling the country building a national network of people who will work together to end mountaintop removal.

At the heart of this effort is “Appalachian Treasures,” a multimedia presentation that features photos that capture the beauty of Appalachia along with disturbing shots of flattened moonscape mining sites, voice recordings of neighbors and friends recounting the daily struggles of life in the coalfields, and traditional music of Appalachia. This amazing presentation leaves a powerful, lasting impression of the beauty and the richness of the culture and heritage of Appalachia, as well as the needless devastation caused by mountaintop removal coal mining.

Image right: The debris, also known as overburden or spoil, is dumped into nearby valleys forever burying streams. These structures are unstable and likely to sink or shift.

3 ways you can help

1. Write a letter to your US Representative asking them to co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act, a bill that would protect coalfield communities. For more information and help writing your letter, click here.

2. Host a viewing of Appalachian Treasures. We would love to send you a free action kit that includes everything you need to host a viewing of “Appalachian Treasures” for your family and friends, church group, or civic organization. To request a kit, contact or 828-262-1500.

3. Make a donation to help keep the Appalachian Treasures project on the road by clicking here then click the “Support Us” tab above.

Image left: The coal is washed and treated before it is loaded on trains. The excess water left over from this process is called coal slurry or sludge and is stored in open ponds, or coal impoundments, like this one. Coal sludge is a mix of water, coal dust, clay and toxic chemicals such as arsenic mercury, lead, copper, and chromium. Coal impoundments are held in place by mining debris, making them very unstable. In 2000, a coal impoundment broke and spilled 250 million gallons of sludge that is more than 20 times the amount of oil lost by the Exxon Valdez

To learn more about mountaintop removal, please click here.

Appalachian Voices

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