Archive for May, 2013

Lockdown at MTR financier UBS in Knoxville

Friday, May 24th, 2013
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From our friends at Hands Off Appalachia:


Residents Oppose Mountaintop Removal Financier

UBS Wealth Management targeted by nonviolent protest.

Knoxville, Tennessee May 24th, 2013

Two women locked to fat cat banker puppet at UBS Knoxville office.

This morning, activists associated with Mountain Justice, Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), and Hands Off Appalachia! entered the Gay Street branch of UBS wealth management services and refused to leave. Inside the office, three activists locked themselves to a large paper mache puppet depicting an investment banker. The non-violent protest was in opposition to UBS’ funding and supporting of the harmful extractive process known as mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Mountaintop removal coal mining requires intensive injections of capital investment. That capital comes at the cost of the people of Appalachia. I’ve engaged in this non-violent act of protest against UBS’ funding of mountaintop removal to exhibit our dedication to ending their funding and support of an industry that is devastating Appalachia and killing it’s residents.” — Ricki Draper, Hands Off Appalachia! And Knoxville Resident. (more…)

Video from today’s blockage of Alpha’s HQ

Friday, May 24th, 2013
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Check out more pictures from the action here!

Alpha HQ Shut Down by Demonstrators, Tank of Dirty Water

Friday, May 24th, 2013
posted by admin

For Immediate Release 5/24/13

Contact: Charles Suggs, 304-986-5080, [email protected]


Alpha Headquarters Shut Down By Demonstrators Locked to Tank of Dirty Water

Residents Protest Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, Health Impacts and Sludge Expansion

5 people locked to tank of dirty 250 gal of water and a barrel blocking entrance to Alpha Natural Resources' HQ.

BRISTOL, VA.— Three residents of Central Appalachia and supporters with Mountain Justice chained themselves to an industrial tank of black water in front of Alpha Natural Resources’ Bristol, Va., headquarters to protest Alpha’s mountaintop removal strip mining and coal slurry operations across the region.

“I’m risking arrest today because mountaintop removal has to end now for the future viability of Appalachia,” says Emily Gillespie of Roanoke, Va., whose work with the Mountain Justice movement is inspired by Appalachian women’s history of non-violent resistance. The tank of water represents coal contamination from affected communities across the Appalachian region.

The group called for Alpha to stop seeking an expansion of the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment in Raleigh County, W.Va. “We want Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, to produce a signed document expressing that they won’t seek the expansion of the Brushy Fork Impoundment before we leave,” Junior Walk, 23, from the Brushy Fork area said.

“I live downstream from Alpha’s Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment on Coal River. If that impoundment breaks, my whole family would be killed,” Walk said, “Even if it doesn’t, we’re still being poisoned by Alpha’s mining wastes everyday. I’m here to bring the reality of that destruction to the corporate authorities who are causing it, but who don’t have to suffer its consequences.”

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies since 2010 demonstrate a connection between mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of kidney, lung, and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects and early mortality. The ACHE act, currently in sub committee in Washington, calls for a moratorium on new mountaintop removal operations until a definitive, non-partisan study can demonstrate the reason for these community health emergency levels of health impacts.

The impoundment at Brushy Fork holds back almost 5 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is considered the largest earthen dam in the Western hemisphere. Recently leaked records show that Alpha’s coal slurry impoundments in Appalachia failed 59 out of 75 73 total structural tests performed by the Office of Surface Mining. “Alpha is only profitable because they’re allowed to gamble with our lives—and we’re the ones who pay the cost of their negligence and toxic pollution,” Walk said.

Alpha has lost numerous lawsuits relating to pollution from mining wastes in recent years, but they continue to violate safety regulations and expand their hazardous operations.

After refusing to take responsibility for the massive floods caused by the King Coal Highway and their destructive mountaintop removal mining practices, Alpha continues to push forward similar projects, such as the controversial Coalfields Expressway in Virginia.

To learn more about Mountain Justice, visit