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Volunteers swim in Peachtree Falls after cleaning up trash in the nearby creek.

Two Decades of Resistance: Coal River Mountain Watch Takes Stock at 20


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Coal River Mountain Watch’s history of resistance to mountaintop coal mining is plastered across the wood-paneled walls of the group’s modest office in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Framed photos, many of demonstrators being handcuffed, dot the walls. In the back of the building, a floor-to-ceiling length tapestry depicts the “true cost of coal” as envisioned… Read More

A mountaintop removal mine site in southern West Virginia.

Study Shows Surface Coal Miners are Exposed to Toxic Dust that Causes Black Lung

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Appalachian surface coal miners are consistently overexposed to toxic silica dust, according to new research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and surface mine dust contains more silica than does dust in underground coal mines. The research is the first to specifically analyze long-term data on exposure to toxic silica dust for workers… Read More

Participants documented many exposures to cigarette smoke. Kentucky and West Virginia have the nation’s highest smoking rates.

Mountain Air: Youth Help Identify Causes of Ohio Valley’s High Lung Disease Rates

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Isabella Back, 18, pulls her jacket tight around herself as she crosses the gravel driveway. “So we’re going about 10 feet from my house to my dad’s workshop,” she says, and pushes through a door in a big, red barn. The Kona, Kentucky, shop is crowded with cluttered work tables and hulking machines, and the… Read More

CBD oil from hemp on the shelves in Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company.

While FDA Warns CBD Companies, Ohio Valley Industry Continues to Grow

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent out 15 letters last week warning some companies that sell cannabidiol, or CBD, about making unfounded medical claims regarding the effects of the hemp-derived compound. Many users claim CBD has a wide range of medicinal benefits but there is little evidence. Despite this warning, the burgeoning industry in the Ohio Valley continues… Read More

The Chemours facility, formerly the Dupont company’s site

‘Dark Waters’ Puts PFAS Saga on Big Screen as Ohio Valley Contamination Comes to Light

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The new film “Dark Waters” depicts the real-life story of the 20-year battle waged by attorney Rob Bilott against chemical giant DuPont. We meet Bilott, played by Mark Ruffalo, as a young corporate defense lawyer living in Cincinnati. His grandmother, who lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia, gives his phone number to local farmer, Earl Tennant…. Read More

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

MSHA Comment Period Shows Divide on Measures to Protect Miners Health

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The comment period has closed for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposed rule on respirable silica, a major contributor to skyrocketing rates of lung disease among coal miners. The 49 relevant comments included a striking testimony from an anonymous coal miner sharing details of the ways in which current mine operators cheat on dust… Read More

Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray speaks at the EnVision Forum

Black Lung Trust Fund Likely Burdened by Murray Bankruptcy

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The recent bankruptcy of Murray Energy is likely to significantly increase the debt of a struggling federal trust fund that supports disabled miners’ health care expenses. According to court filings, Murray Energy could be responsible for as much as $155 million under the Black Lung Act and general workers’ compensation, but testimony from the Government Accountability… Read More

The Paducah Water lab tests a variety of different water samples

Ohio Valley Residents Among Millions in America Lacking Access to Clean Water, Sanitation

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Communities across the Ohio Valley are among an estimated 2 million Americans that do not have consistent access to clean drinking water and basic indoor plumbing, according to a report published Monday by two nonprofits, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance. The report titled, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States,” synthesized data… Read More

Kristi Reyes now spends time with her grandson in her new home.

Homelessness and Health Costs: This Kentucky Mom Faced Cancer While Living in Her Car

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Cancer was what finally pushed Kristi Reyes into living in her car. The mother of four had worked all her life, starting at age 7 when she helped out at her family’s furniture store. Most of her work was in retail. It was paycheck-to-paycheck but she kept her kids together and a roof over their… Read More

A scene from inside Portal 31.

Portal 31: How A Closed Mine Opened New Prospects For One Coal Town

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Devin Mefford is sitting in the squat metal buggy of a modified mantrip, the train-like shuttle coal miners use to travel underground. Mefford is dressed for work, in a hardhat and a navy shirt and pants with lime green reflective stripes. It’s a uniform his father and grandfather — both Kentucky coal miners — would… Read More