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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:W. Virginia Community Rallies to Safeguard Schoolchildren from Coal-Processing Health Hazards
24 Oct 2009
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
W. Virginia Community Rallies to Safeguard Schoolchildren from Coal-Processing Health Hazards

Interview with Ed Wiley, West Virginia coal country activist, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Ed Wiley is a resident of Rock Creek, W.Va., in the Coal River Valley. In 2006, he walked more than 500 miles from Charleston, W. Va. to Washington, D.C. to urge Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) to support the community's efforts to build a new school because the existing Marsh Fork Elementary sits in the shadow of a massive coal processing plant and coal loading silo. Nearly 3 billion gallons of toxic sludge sit behind a leaking impoundment dam 400 yards from the school.

When he worked for the mining company, Wiley helped pump that sludge into the mountain without much thought of the danger it posed. Then his granddaughter, a student at the school, became ill along with many other kids there, due to the school's close proximity to the coal facilities. Tests indicated severe air contamination, and everyone at the school lived with the fear of a catastrophic break in the dam.

After fruitless appeals to the county and state boards of education and to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, Wiley decided to up the ante. He and fellow grassroots activists formed a group, Pennies of Promise, to collect money to build a new school themselves and to raise awareness of the dangers coal mining poses to communities dependent on the industry throughout southern West Virginia. Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Ed Wiley at his Rock Creek home. He explains that the coal operation there is illegal and describes his efforts to ensure the safety of his town's children.

Visit Ed Wiley's group's website at More information can be found at the site of Coal River Mountain Watch at Contact the group at (304) 854-2182.

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
betweenthelines (at)
Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
©2009 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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