The Columbus Free Press spoke with Zoe Beavers of Climate Ground Zero on Saturday Nov 22, as two concerned citizens, Dea Goblirsch and Nick Martin, locked down to a drill rig on Coal River Mountain’s Bee Tree mountaintop removal site, effectively stopping blasting. There will be a national day of action on Dec 7 in Charleston, WV to stop mountain top removal mining.

Zoe Beavers : We’ll they’ve started blasting on Coal River Mountain in order to build a road so they can start their mountain top removal (on Coal River Mountain). They’ve actually started blasting close to the impoundment that holds 9 billion gallons of toxic sludge. They’ve started 200 feet from the edge of the impoundment to do this blasting for the road. There are a couple of folks there-Dea and Nick-- and they’ve locked themselves down to the drill rig to halt the blasting. Dea is actually locked down in the cab of the drill rig and Nick is locked down to the cage on the outside of it.

Columbus Free Press: This is going on right now as we speak ?

Zoe Beavers: Yes, at this moment, as we speak. The last we heard, there are some county cops, somewhere on the location, and there is mine security around but as of right now, they are still locked down, holding some ground.

Columbus Free Press: Do you have other media people contacting you?

Zoe Beavers: It’s kind of getting out and being that it’s Saturday, it’s (the news about it) is slowly starting to kind of roll. But yes, (the major media is paying attention) especially with the EPA hopping on board. They came out a couple of days ago.

Columbus Free Press: The federal EPA ?

Zoe Beavers: Yes, the federal EPA. Earlier this week, they sent out a letter to Marfolk (a subsidiary of Massey Energy) concerning the absence of the valley-fill permit. The site is so big that they’re going to need a valley fill permit. But they don’t have that permit yet. That’s one of the permits that is being held up. They’re already blasting ( on Coal River Mountain) without having a permit. So the EPA sent them a letter that is kind of calling them out about blasting without this permit going through... This is at the Bee Tree site.

Columbus Free Press: So you think the work of activists ( such as the Dea and Nick locking themselves down to the rigs today) is leading to the federal EPA taking action ?

Zoe Beavers: This is issue is so big that it’s going to take everybody working together. Coal River Wind is there and they are pushing for the wind farm. Coal River Mountain is the area that has this great potential for wind energy. So, Coal River Wind is saying “if they blast the mountain, we can’t put a wind farm there.”

And the activists are up there physically trying to stop the blasting until the EPA and the governor (Joe Manchin of West Viginia) stand up and actually do something to try to help the people. The big thing about this impoundment and this action today--this Bee Tree site where they’re drilling right now-- is that they’re blasting 200 feet from the largest toxic sludge impoundment. It has up to 9 billion gallons of this toxic sludge.

We’re not necessarily worrying about the dam itself breaking, but like what happened in Marion County in 2000 was that it busted out the bottom of the dam. This huge sludge impoundment is sitting on all of these hollow mines.