CHARLESTON, W.Va., July 27 (UPI) -- Two environmental activists Wednesday spent an eighth day sitting in trees in an effort to stop coal strip mining on a southern West Virginia mountain.
Between the Lines, a radio news program based in Connecticut, reported the two tree-sitting protesters, Catherine-Ann MacDougal and Beck Kolins, are opposed to the mountaintop removal mining method used by Massey Energy, bought this spring by Alpha Natural Resources, to mine the coal at Coal River Mountain.
Two supporters, Junior Walk and Eli Schewel, were arrested by state police on the first day of the tree-sit protest and charged with trespassing at the Bee Tree surface mine site.
The Charleston Gazette reported Wednesday MacDougal and Kolins, who are holding out on platforms about 80 feet above the ground, issued an open letter to Alpha Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield, demanding face-to-face meetings and an end to the strip mining in the area.
Among their concerns with mountaintop removal mining are the degradation of water quality, flooding and serious public health impacts, including elevated cancer rates.
At a May meeting with several area residents, they said: "Alpha was specifically asked to halt blasting near the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, which is located near the Bee Tree permit where we are sitting in trees. This is the only active mountaintop removal permit on Coal River Mountain, and we share residents' concerns that the blasting on this permit is weakening the structural integrity of the impoundment. Failure of the impoundment could kill a thousand people living downstream, according to Massey Energy's figures."