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Intro: "Among the 1.2 million American citizens living in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to the federally sanctioned strip-mining practice."

Julia 'Judy' Bonds (right), a West Virginia environmental activist who garnered national attention for her homespun opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, died of cancer at 58, 01/08/11. (photo:
Julia 'Judy' Bonds (right), a West Virginia environmental activist who garnered national attention for her homespun opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, died of cancer at 58, 01/08/11. (photo:

Mountaintop Removal Linked to 60,000 Additional Cancer Cases

By Jeff Biggers, Reader Supported News

27 July 11


mong the 1.2 million American citizens living in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to the federally sanctioned strip-mining practice.

That is the damning conclusion in a breakthrough study, released last night in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Led by West Virginia University researcher Dr. Michael Hendryx, among others, the study entitled "Self-Reported Cancer Rates in Two Rural Areas of West Virginia with and Without Mountaintop Coal Mining" drew from a groundbreaking community-based participatory research survey conducted in Boone County, West Virginia in the spring of 2011, which gathered person-level health data from communities directly impacted by mountaintop mining, and compared to communities without mining.

"A door to door survey of 769 adults found that the cancer rate was twice as high in a community exposed to mountaintop removal mining compared to a non-mining control community," said Hendryx, Associate Professor at the Department of Community Medicine and Director of West Virginia Rural Health Research Center at West Virginia University. "This significantly higher risk was found after control for age, sex, smoking, occupational exposure and family cancer history. The study adds to the growing evidence that mountaintop mining environments are harmful to human health."

Bottom line: Far from simply being an environmental issue, mountaintop removal is killing American residents.

"This research in the Coal River Valley, along with the recent birth defects research in Appalachia and other peer reviewed science, is providing evidence of the long term effects of human exposure to mountaintop removal," said Coal River Valley resident and coalfield leader Bo Webb, who participated in the study. "Again, I urgently call upon the United States government to intervene and address this health crisis, place an immediate moratorium on mountaintop removal and stop this needless killing of our citizens."

As a tree-sit protest in the Coal River Valley enters a new week to stop the strip mining operations at a former Massey Energy and current Alpha Natural Resources site, the New York Times is reporting today that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a key supporter of absentee coal companies and lobbies, reported "operating income of $1,363,916" from a coal brokerage firm.

Last month, delivering a new study on the link between birth defects and mountaintop removal mining, Appalachian leaders went to Washington, DC, to call on President Obama, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, Department of Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder to enact an immediate moratorium on all mountaintop removal mining operations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia until the Center for Disease Control and/or other federal regulatory agencies make a complete assessment of the spiraling health and human rights crisis related to mountaintop removal mining.

According to the new study: "The odds for reporting cancer were twice as high in the mountaintop mining environment compared to the non mining environment in ways not explained by age, sex,smoking, occupational exposure, or family cancer history." The study found:

Surface water and ground water around MTM activity are characterized by elevated sulfates, iron, manganese, arsenic, selenium, hydrogen hydrogen sulfide, lead, magnesium, calcium and aluminum; contaminates severely damage local aquatic stream life and can persist for decades after mining at a particular site ceases. In addition, elevated levels of airborne particulate matter around surface mining operations include ammonium nitrate, silica, sulfur compounds, metals, benzene, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and nitrogen dioxide.

Citing extremely high levels of uterine and ovarian, skin, urinary, bone, brain, and others forms of cancers, the study additionally noted:

Arsenic, for example, is an impurity present in coal that is implicated in many forms of cancer including that of skin, bladder and kidney. Cadmium is linked to renal cancer. Diesel engines are widely used at mining sites, and diesel fuel is used for surface mining explosives, coal transportation and coal processing; diesel exhaust has been identified as a major environmental contributor to cancer risk.

Despite the deadly consequences, mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachian only provides 5-8 percent of national coal production.

More information on the Appalachian leaders call for a MTR Moratorium Now can be found here. your social media marketing partner


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+20 # Ken Hall 2011-07-27 22:58
This is a no-brainer, and one of the most telling symptoms of how far wrong the US "democracy" has strayed. Mineral extraction is destroying ecosystems and poisoning the US populace, but Big Money talks louder than the welfare of the environment or US citizens. I read today Tim DeChristopher's statement prior to his sentencing for disrupting an energy auction. It is an eloquent plea on behalf of Mother Earth. His origins are in WVA, and shaped his principled opposition to energy corps. If we all would rise and oppose this, something might be done. Yes, people will be brutalized, some may die, as happened during the social unrest that led to the New Deal. We have let it slip away, and now we have to fight for it again if we want better lives than the corporations are offering us.
+10 # LeeBlack 2011-07-27 23:18
If we don't regulate so that we'll have a clean environment the predictions of runaway costs of medical care will come true.
+2 # Helen 2011-07-28 00:38
I wonder what our Surgeon General will have to say about this new study.
+13 # NanFan 2011-07-28 03:03
"Arsenic...impl icated in many forms of cancer including that of skin, bladder and kidney. Cadmium...renal cancer."

Yet, mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachian only provides 5-8% of national America's coal production??

How stupid we humans are!

We see study-after-stu dy from credible sources that tell us something that WE are doing or manufacturing is causing astounding levels of illness and deaths, and yet, we continue to allow it, regardless of any lack of benefit to us.

I can not help but wonder how we can justify this federally sanctioned practices, strip-mining AND the manufacture of tobacco products that one smokes, WHICH contain arsenic, cadmium, and 600 other chemicals, most of which are toxic. Tobacco products KILL 440,000 Americans per year, whether they smoke or not; studies show without doubt that deaths from second- and third-hand smoke are real, let alone the staggering deaths and illnesses of smokers.

What is wrong with us?? Is EVERYTHING about lining the pockets of corporations, regardless of the effects?

Why, oh, WHY won't the federal government -- if they are going to have a say in whether strip-mining or smoking is legal or not -- regulate the production of the product or stop. Demand ALL toxic chemicals be removed or they may not be sold in the U.S.

And stop strip-mining!
+12 # jwb110 2011-07-28 06:49
You can bet if the first on the list of high cancer levels were penile cancer Washington would do something about it. Pricks listen to Pricks.
+6 # in deo veritas 2011-07-28 07:32
When now Senator Jay Rockefeller ran for governor and campaigned against strip mining he was labelled a carpetbagger since he came from NY and worse. We didn't have hacking back then but the coal companies that strip mined got ahold of correspondence between some local merchants who supported him and circulated it nearly driving a couple of them to financial ruin when they lost the customers whose families did the strip mining. despicable and even criminal in light of what Murdog has been doing, but of course nothing was done. This is the kind of crap we in WV have been enduring because of King Coal. If something isn't done soon by the feds, political cancer will be the inevitable fate they face.
0 # m d jq44355 2011-07-30 08:36
Quoting jwb110:
You can bet if the first on the list of high cancer levels were penile cancer Washington would do something about it. Pricks listen to Pricks.

...who THINK with the same....
+8 # in deo veritas 2011-07-28 07:26
As a lifelong West Virginian, I am thankful not to be in one of the areas of mountaintop rapes. The damned coal industry has kept WV a feudal state for generations to feed its greed. The destruction of our environment is criminal. The loss of lives as in the Sago disaster due to negligence is criminal. yet the federal govt is doing NOTHING! As pointed out, Joe Manchin, who has always been a closet Republican, would never have been elected without the massive financial backing of big coal. Criminal? You guess. We have been thrown under a very big bus by these bastards. Mt father was putting in dynamite in the mines at the age of 15 but managed to graduate from high school and get a better life. he was one of the lucky ones. My uncle came over from Italy, worked in the mines until he retired, but because of the medieval mindset here had to buy his house through a third part because no one would sell to an Italian. Just a couple of instances of how the coal industry has exerted its sinister influence on our state. Wild and Wonderful? Almost heaven? Not much longer at the rate these vermin are defiling the state and its people.
+6 # Glen 2011-07-28 09:10
I just voted for what I consider to be the worst out of 11 corrupt billionaires. It was not easy, and one on the list is directly involved in the mining industry and its savagery. These billionaires have direct influence over the government, so it will be shocking if there is any action against the decimation of citizens or land.

If the federal government is screwing over 9/11 workers they will screw over ANYBODY. Take a lesson.
+2 # Todd Williams 2011-07-28 10:46
I've been kayaking for years in WVA rivers and creeks and am always appalled by the mine acid polluted streams. They literally run yellow with acid from old, blown out mine shafts. Now we have the issue of mountain top removal. These crooks and their political lackeys have ruined one of the most beautiful states in the Union and they don't ever plan to stop until they've gotten every frigging ounce of coal out of those mountains. It's going to make more than rallies and speaches to drive those polluters out of WVA. I say it's going to take direct action!
+1 # Andy Willis 2011-07-28 17:01
It was bad and getting worse when I left WVa. in 1989 - A beautiful scenic place bought and paid for long ago - That it's adopted theme song should change from "Almost Heaven" to "Damn Near Hell!" is unbearable - only a revolution can alter this thoughtless abomination of corporate rule!
+1 # futhark 2011-07-29 05:09
Once upon a time the federal government had an authority called the Environmental Protection Agency that was supposed to monitor environmental abuse and prosecute abusers. This agency was authorized by a congressional bill signed into law by none other than President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. We don't have Nixon to kick around anymore, but we do have an executive branch that is woefully remiss in its duty to protect the American people, a duty that Mr. Obama has stated he has sworn an oath to do. The swearing on the oath must have been a private affair, since I never heard of it being televised.
+1 # Jonthan Mark 2011-07-29 13:14
I appreciate all these comments, especially the first one by Ken Hall. The issue of democracy and principles of the US Constitution is really needed now more than ever. And prioritizing a united effort to stop our civilization's downfall is essential. This is why I am promoting former Senator Mike Gravel's democracy state initiative to gain a citizens review of what happened on and since September 11, 2001. To learn more about this go to - For a great resource on "Energy Pollution's Impact On Our Environment" see my site under first three paragraphs under KEY NEWS ARTICLES AND RESOURCES - Flyby News is also linking to this and other related articles for life's survival in the 21st Century under "critical breaking news". Thank You Jeff Biggers for this important article on the harm of mountain top coal mining.

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