"On Coal River" Explores Mountaintop Removal Mining in West Virginia
Mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachians does more than obliterate mountains. It obliterates communities, according to “On Coal River,” produced by two Asheville, N.C., residents.
The documentary chronicles the David-versus-Goliath struggle of four families in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley who took on a huge energy company extracting coal by blasting away a mountain in their midst. It focuses on Ed Wiley, a former coal miner concerned about the toxic waste facility that threatened his granddaughter’s elementary school.
Adams Wood and Francine Cavanaugh had never heard of mountaintop removal when they moved to Asheville in 2002. But two years later, after seeing photos of the lunar-like landscape the process left behind, the two filmmakers drove to the Coal River Valley. Over the next six years, they collected and edited hundreds of hours of footage of families coping with the process’s physical, social and emotional effects.
“Mountaintop removal is taking heavy metals and toxic substances locked underground and dispersing them over wide areas of a community,” Wood says. “People are literally dying because of what is happening to their water and air."
Click here to view the documentary.