According to media reports, on February 24,
Massey Energy Co. stated it will create a medical monitoring fund to provide health screenings for
hundreds of southern West Virginia residents who sued the company over claims it poisoned their
wells with coal slurry.
A Massey lawyer said the deal was reached even though a second
mediation attempt in Charleston this week failed to settle other issues in the long-running lawsuit
against Virginia-based Massey and a subsidiary, Rawl Sales & Processing.
More than 700 current and former residents of southern West Virginia communities Rawl, Lick
Creek, Sprigg and Merrimac claim Massey and Rawl contaminated their water supplies by pumping 1.4
billion gallons of toxic coal slurry into worked-out underground mines between 1978 and 1987. Slurry
is a byproduct of washing coal to make it burn more cleanly. The residents say that's what turned
their well water varying shades of red, brown and black.
For years, coal companies in
Appalachia routinely have injected slurry into coal mines to save money instead using other systems
that can safely store or treat it. When West Virginia coal companies like Massey contaminate the
water supply, damage property, trespass on property or cause a nuisance to coalfield residents
through blasting, dust or round-the-clock noise from coal trucks and coal trains, coalfield
residents often must seek the help of
experienced lawyers who know how to bring the coal company to justice.
In West Virginia,
coal companies are well known for their profit-first mentality - rarely do they agree to take any
responsibility for causing serious injuries or damage to people, property or communities. When coal
companies cause this kind of damage in West Virginia, coalfield residents and their families need to
turn to a lawyer to help bring the
coal company to justice.