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Pineville Town Meeting to Allow Citizens to Voice Concerns about Coal and Wyoming County Coal Impoundments

June 2005
Pineville, W.Va., area residents will learn the findings of a recent survey of southern West Virginia coal communities at an upcoming meeting, which will also offer a forum for addressing coal-related issues and concerns.

Hosted by representatives of the Coal Impoundment Project, the meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., June 9, at Pineville Middle School. In addition, officials with the Coal Impoundment Project will be available in the school's computer room from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to give an overview of the project’s Web site and provide hands-on instruction on its use. This pre-meeting session is optional, but the public is encouraged to attend.

"The meeting will address our recent survey that was designed to gain insight into how southern West Virginia coalfield residents view their communities, their environment, coal impoundments and other coal-mining-related issues," says J. Davitt McAteer, director of the Coal Impoundment Project and vice president for sponsored programs at Wheeling Jesuit University. "It also gives these citizens an opportunity to talk about concerns and get answers to their questions about coal and coal impoundments."

The survey was distributed in late March and early April to dozens of towns in Wyoming, Mingo, Boone and Logan counties. Partners in the survey project include Eastern Kentucky University and West Virginia University.

"Our goal with the survey was to gather and analyze trends in public opinion among West Virginia citizens," says McAteer. "The questions tapped into residents' views of coal impoundments and impoundment emergency-evacuation plans, as well as measured views toward government, government regulation and enforcement of the coal industry."

These public meetings, held periodically throughout the state, educate residents about coal impoundments and the hazardous slurry they contain. Slurry is a combination of silt, dust, water, bits of coal and clay particles produced from coal washing and preparation. The meetings also give residents the opportunity to discuss their coal-related concerns. Representatives of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and other mining agencies will be in attendance.

"The people who need to know the most about the dangers of coal impoundments, know the least. This is why in June 2003, work began on the Coal Impoundment Project," says McAteer. "Today, a significant and increasing number of impoundments in the state are accounted for on the Web site. This means, should a failure occur, citizens who live in these areas have access to emergency information."

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