Saturday, August 25, 2007

West Virginia Wasteland: Tetyrl in the Air

Driving through southern West Virginia this winter looked like an industrial wasteland: oversized earth-moving equipment offloaded into the rutted muddy earth along narrow winding mountain roads; a dark dank coal dust siting lazily in the air, tarnishing the withering bucolic forests; and a people who look hollow-eyed and harried, others with fire in their eyes, fighting for their lives.

A February 15, 2007 article by AP reporter Tim Huber titled, “Contractor injured detonating military explosives at surface mine” reveals yet another source of the burgeoning “Coal-Industrial Complex”--similar to North Carolina’s “Research Triangle” or California’s “Silicon Valley” -- Tetryl.

Southern West Virginia mines in Kanawha and Boone counties have been the recent sites of the disposal of expired military munitions.In a contract between the US Department of Defense and Talon Manufacturing, Inc., “more than one million tons of expired US Army munitions” will be destroyed on active coal mining sites, Samples and Catenary Coal mines, in the backyard of already beleaguered mountain communities that have been swept up in a national energy debate, for they are at the ground zero of coal.Coalfield community activists have been rallying for years. But political demand to attain “energy independence”, has become the mantra and the new generation of “clean coal technology” power plants provide the coal industry with a platform to talk of its “alternative” energies.