Minden Continues Its 30-Year Fight for Environmental Justice


MINDEN, W.Va (WOAY) – In 1989, Lucian Randall led a march through Minden to protest the PCB contamination caused by Shaffer Equipment. 30 years later, his friends, family, and community took up that same mantle pushing a barrel like he did in his honor.

“We just have to keep fighting,” Lucian Randall’s friend and Minden resident, Percy Fruit said. “Keep ourselves in the eyes of the people that are responsible to help us.”

Like hundreds in Minden, Randall became ill from the contaminants in the water and died before his fight for environmental justice was over. However, the community of Minden continues that same fight to this day.

“It’s frustrating. And heartbreaking. Because you watch families and friends die of cancer after cancer and there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s like no one really wants to listen,” one member of the Byrd family said.

The marchers followed the same route as the people who marched in the late ’80s, through the town of Minden and into downtown Oak Hill. While the site of Shaffer Equipment has been added to the EPA’s top priority list, according to the residents and marchers, justice is relocating those who want to leave.

“They did come in here and clean up but I know they cleaned up the site I can’t remember how much soil they took up but it’s it’s in the dirt it’s still around,” Oak Hill resident Mark McClung said. “I think it’s kind of obvious with the cancer rates being twice the national average I think down here.”

As Minden continues to feel the loss and because of that, continues their fight, what has kept them going all these years is the love for the people and the place they call home.

“I love Minden. Always have. I’ve been to a lot of places in my life and always came back to Minden. This town. This my home,” Fruit said.


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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.