Front Porch Blog

Jack Spadaro: Hero of the Southern Appalachian Coalfields to Speak at Appalachian State University

Jack Spadaro is scheduled to speak at Appalachian State University on October 26th, from 7:00-9:00 pm in the Belk Library, room 114. His presentation, is titled, Mountain Top Removal and the Destruction of Appalachia.

Raised in the West Virginia coalfields, Jack Spadaro worked in the mines to finance his college education, receiving a degree in Mining Engineering from West Virginia University. His efforts earned him a position as the top safety trainer, and superintendent for the Mine Safety Health Administration’s National Mine Health and Safety Academy. He soon lost favor, though, with MSHA and the Sr. Bush administration, when he transitioned from employee to whistle-blower.

In October of 2000, a sludge dam, owned by mining giant Massey Energy, failed in Martin County, Kentucky, resulting in an environmental disaster worse than the Exxon-Valdese oil spill. Spadaro was assigned to investigate the incident, and when he insisted that Massey be held accountable for the negligence that allowed the flood to occur, Spadaro’s files, and computer were confiscated and he was given “early retirement.”

Spadaro now dedicates his time to fighting injustice in the coalfields and serves as an expert witness in court cases related to mining issues. Though soft-spoken, Spadaro’s voice resounds with a boom when addressing issues of coal-mining safety.

Spadaro is the recipient of several awards, including the Jenco Foundation Award for Service to Humanity in Appalachia, the Chuck Chambers Public Service Award of the West Virginia Environmental Council, and the Helen Lewis Community Service Award of the Appalachian Studies Association.

Spadaro’s presentation is sponsored by Appalachian Voices, Center for Appalachian Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Sustainable Development.





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