Frustration in a Small Coal Mining Town

West Virginia, the home and deathplace of coal mining. Coal mining has been dying out for the past twenty years due to the studies on the health of miners and the people who live near by.

Three different lungs, one of a normal lung, one of a older person and finally, a coal miner's lung; photo from thecilo.com
Three different lungs, one of a normal lung, one of a older person and finally, a coal miner’s lung; photo from thecilo.com

Yes, it’s known to cause lung cancer and to give those who mine the coal black lung. If you have never seen a photo of a coal miner’s lungs, it’s not a pretty sight. However, our current president, Donald Trump had promised in his campaign to ramp up on the production on coal. Yes, that means forgetting about the health of men and women who go into the mines just to make a living.

One town in the Appalachia region has felt the pain of studies getting canceled, at this point they are even surprised at the aspect of a canceled study.  In Glen Daniel, W.Va. it’s just another day.

Chuck Nelson worked years in the mines and he knows in order to make a living it costs him his health. He blames the well water at the mine for his kidney and liver diseases and his wife’s  severe asthma on the coal particles and dust on mines near their home.

Some of Nelson’s neighbors agree with him and say that the mining near the mountains has been the main culprit for the various health issues. Some completed studies agree with them but when finished, the studies usually held the same result: inconclusive.

A new federal study was supposed to provide the most comprehensive report to date but only three months into the study, the Trump administration canceled the study, citing budget issues. The current administration is noted to be known supporters of the coal industry.

The end of the study doesn’t surprise Nelson and his neighbors anymore. It’s a part of daily life for them now. “If a study comes out negative against the coal industry, it gets swept under the rug, and the funding’s stopped by these politicians who cater to the coal industry,” Nelson said.

The people know why they have these health problems and the government does too. They don’t know when the government will answer to the problems of coal mining and they might not be here to see the day but when the day comes, Nelson and his neighbors will be ready and by telling their story, the day might come soon.