Vigilance Required at Mine Waste Site

Letter to the Editor
Morgantown Dominion Post
5 July 2011

My Lemley great-grandparents, grandparents and other relatives are buried at the Oak Forest Cemetery. That’s the cemetery that lies within 100 feet of a proposed mine waste.

Oak Forest Cemetery is on the ridge at the top of the Camp Run watershed, which is part of the Dunkard Creek watershed.

When CONSOL bought the whole Camp Run Valley and demolished the farmhouses and buildings, we knew the unique, almost pristine valley and its healthy perennial stream (where my grandfather used to wash diapers) would be destroyed.

But I didn’t imagine that 1,372 acres of slurry would reach to the ridgetop cemetery. Sort of ironic. My husband’s family owned the land occupied now by Blacksville No. 2 mine and its waste-filled valley that will rise higher than the surrounding hills. Now my ancestral land, one of those special West Virginia places that people love to retire to, is going to be buried in black stuff. For 20 years of coal, eternal destruction. What a downer.

It is inappropriate that Wolfpen (the CONSOL subsidiary) has adopted the appellation “Mason Dixon” for this latest project to industrialize a piece of wild, wonderful West Virginia. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon wouldn’t like it. They were intelligent, respected astronomer/surveyors who accomplished a difficult task in 1764-1767, drawing a straight line for 200-plus miles through the wilderness.

Their names have many applications here on the Mason-Dixon Line, always as an expression of honor and recognition. “You’re in Mason-Dixon territory” means, “Hey, something significant happened here. Not an appropriate name for a thing no tourist will ever want to see.”

Additional mining will put additional stress on the entire Dunkard Creek watershed, which experienced decimation of all aquatic life in 2009, an event that was well documented and still is a red flag for future water quality concerns.

Camp Run provides quality water to Dunkard Creek and its destruction will be significant. Dunkard Creek seems to be recovering. It must be recognized that CONSOL has been cooperative in protecting the creek as much as possible and, we must assume, will continue to do so through the construction and operation of the facility that will occupy the valley of Camp Run.

It will be a huge facility and will require vigilance on its part to prevent further water quality problems. Many watershed residents will be employed at the new mine; it will be the best of both worlds if they are able to make a living and have the opportunity to relax by Dunkard Creek and catch some nice fish.
Betty Lemley Wiley