CORPORATIONS CAN GET AWAY WITH MURDER

(02/27/2002)

Dear Editor,

I had the opportunity to travel to Buffalo Creek last fall with a few friends here in the office. We were all less than two years old when those terrible events of February 1972 unfolded, so we have no personal accounts of the devastation wrought by the Pittston Corporation, but we have all read about the terror inflicted on that morning and we wanted to see for ourselves where it all happened.

Of course, you can't drive to the dam site directly, you have to cross over two ridges to get there. In fact, the tipple was finally being dismantled all these years later. Of the communities closest to the impoundment, there is nothing. NOTHING. No one has rebuilt, as if nothing of any import occurred there.

We actually talked with a man who had survived the devastation. Frank Vanover was his name. He told us of a sound he heard in a pile of debris that everyone thought was an animal. Upon closer inspection, Frank pulled a child from the muck and mire that was Buffalo Creek, and that child lived. Ironically, Frank was working as a security guard at the old tipple, keeping an eye on the demolition equipment.

Everytime I hear a story about Buffalo Creek, I just get angry. Angry that a corporation can get away with murder. Angry that then-Governor Moore settled for nothing. Angry that today overweight coal trucks are killing our citizens and no one remembers that morning in 1972 that should have changed the way we all view the coal industry.

Eric Hudnall