Front Porch Blog

Boulder rolling into KY home only gets $10,000 fine

The fine assessed to coal company for blasting a boulder into your home : $10,000
Bail assessed to tree-sitters who prevent blasting at a mountaintop removal site: $50,000
Ending mountaintop removal coal mining: PRICELESS

One of the dangers that face coalfield residents every day is what the industry calls flyrock, a term that does not provide an accurate description. Flyrock can be more accurately described as “really big boulders that can kill you.”

This picture is a example of a “flyrock” incident that occurred in Floyd County, KY, late last week. Luckily no one was home at the time of the incident. The fact that people could have been killed and that a home was severely damaged, not to mention the psychological damage done to the community, surely is worth more than $10,000. Obviously, the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement in Kentucky disagreed.

This is not the only time flyrock had damaged homes; and it has even taken lives. In January 2005, a bulldozer pushed a boulder the size of a large microwave off a mountaintop removal site in Appalachia, Virginia, at 3 a.m. where it rolled right into the bedroom of Zach and Jeremy Davdison. Jeremy, the younger of the two, was unfortunate enough to have the bed next to the outside wall. That boulder crushed 3 year-old- Jeremy Davidson to death. But Zach, the older brother while physically safe will have psychological wounds that may never heal. The Washington Post article reported him saying, “When we move, I don’t want to live by a hill. I may be next.”

The A&G Coal Company, responsible for the incident, was fined even less, a paltry $5000.

However, peaceful protesters who sat in trees to prevent blasting at Massey Energy’s Edwight Surface Mine were fined $50,000 for trespass, obstruction and littering when they came down after 5 days of enduring psychological torture, verbal assault and threats from Massey employees and security.

In fact, the rough treatment of the 2 tree-sitters, as well as the contracted security themselves, was enough for Chris Carey and Patrick Murray, two of the contract security, to walk off the job. They were brave enough to share their views of the tree-sit, and their complex and subtle opinions of the power of Big Coal and the future of West Virginia. Watch the video- there’s a 10 minute version, but the one hour version is worth listening to as well.

What message are we sending to the coalfield residents of Appalachia, when coal companies literally get away with murder and destruction for a measly $10,000?





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