There will be a protest at the Green Space in downtown Lewisburg on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11:30 a.m. for the #Justice4Minden advocacy group. Minden is a town located in Fayette County, north of Beckley.
According to a Wikipedia page about the town, “In 1984, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reported PCB transformers at Shaffer Mine, which is on land owned by Berwind Land Co to the EPA. Soil samples from the old Shaffer mine showed PCB levels of 250,000 parts per million (ppm) and the EPA declared it a Superfund Site. There were two clean-ups, one in the 1980s and in 1992, which included sealing of one part of the mine site. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration nevertheless did not monitor employee exposure to PCB. A local doctor said that already in the 1980s he had told EPA agents that he believed PCB exposure was causing a higher number of cancer.”
The following is a press release sent by The Minden Community Action Team:
We will be protesting Jim Justice’s intentional lack of action for the toxic town of Minden. Minden residents will share their stories of illness and the fight for justice. Allies will lift up the community and make noise to get Minden on the Superfund National Priorities List.
Jim Justice has known for months that the community of Minden needs our governor to nominate Minden for the National Priorities List. He has chosen not to nominate this town and people have died of cancer since we first made the request.
He claimed that he needed more information. We sent him more information. He said he needs a sample with high levels of PCBs, he got that. The truth is the governor nominates the site and then EPA retrieves information and gives the site a hazards ranking score. The governor does not need the information that Jim Justice has asked for, and he can nominate Minden today if he chose.
Once nominated for the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), EPA determines if the site belongs on the list. If Minden makes it on the NPL, it will no longer be a Superfund Alternative Removal Site, which is low priority.
Concentrated federal staff and money will go into investigating, cleanup, and protecting public health. Being on the NPL means that there is ongoing public risk for chemical exposure, which should justify relocation of residents. There are more benefits to being on the NPL and if Superfund really does have public health at its core, Minden belongs on the list.
After multiple unanswered formal requests by community members, the people of Minden think they might be better heard if they show up in Lewisburg. Minden lives are being lost as our public officials choose silence over the greater good for an entire community.
These are human beings with faces, families, and lives.
For proof, check out Annetta Coffman’s photo memoir from living in a toxic town: