WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WOAY) – On a bridge on Highway 64 over Route 60 in White Sulphur Springs, activists have dropped a banner targeting West Virginia governor Jim Justice. Justice owns the Greenbrier resort, home of the Greenbrier Classic, where the PGA golf tournament takes place from Thursday July 5th to Sunday July 9th. The banner reads “Hey Jim, where’s Minden’s Justice? No toxic sewer project!”.
The banner references a sewer infrastructure project in Minden, West Virginia, a small community just outside of Oak Hill and the ACE Adventure Resort. Many Minden residents are adamantly opposed to the project because of concerns with toxic PCB contamination in the area. Decades ago, Shaffer Equipment Company buried transformers and electrical equipment in the soil surrounding Minden, leading to the proliferation of PCBs. PCBs are known to cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system, along with causing a variety of other environmental and human health impacts. A series of EPA-validated lab results prove that PCB’s still contaminate the soil in Minden to this day.
Currently, the sewer project borders Annetta Coffman’s house. “Walking along the path of the sewer project I can name between 30 and forty people that have died from cancer, currently fighting cancer or died from non- cancerous tumors“ Annetta states. “It’s not the workers fault, they trust the agencies way more than we do. They haven’t been around long enough to catch them in lies. If Jim Justice would come down to Minden, I would personally walk him along the path and show him where our people have suffered from PCBs.”
Previously, Minden community members have reached out for help from Governor Justice. Recently, Justice pledged to endorse Minden’s placement on the EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund sites and ordered a halt on the sewer project in Minden. However, the Governor lifted the halt on the sewer project with the blessing of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
“I think that Justice has only gone along with WVDEP and EPA and they have done nothing but lie to us Mindent residents.” said Susie Worley Jenkins, Minden resident. She continued, “From the very beginning of the planning stages, the agencies have been messing up. They didn’t even bother to do any kind of testing before they just pushed this project and its funding through Minden.”
The deployment of the banner coincides with the PGA tournament at the Greenbrier Resort, providing a chance for national media and out of state tourists to gain awareness of the plight of Minden residents at the hands of Governor Justice.
Community members said that they support the message of the banner, noting that anything that can publicize the devastation in Minden may help to alleviate the suffering of local residents.
Minden residents hope that tourists enjoying the PGA tournament and locals in Greenbrier County take note of their struggle and demand that the Governor put a stop to this toxic project. As Justice encourages visitors to enjoy the beauty of the mountain state, he must also be responsible to residents who are suffering from the excesses of destructive industry and irresponsible state agencies. The governor has the power to prevent the City of Oak Hill from excavating these dangerous chemicals and he has a duty to ensure the health safety of all West Virginians.