Toxic

Season 2009 Episode 20090818

West Virginia

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West Virginia
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Toxic: West Virginia begins on Larry's Gibson's mountain. He worked for Ford Motors. He's just a normal guy who had a cabin up there on Kayford Mountain. He's a West Virginia guy: Born, raised, lives, and works in West Virginia. Kayford is his family's mountain. I think he said they've had it for over 200 years. There's a family cemetery there, and all kinds of people have summer cabins – second cousins, third cousins. Right now this mountain looks like an island. If you see it from the air, it's a little green island in a sea of red and black. This is because of mountaintop removal. Everything surrounding it has been scraped away like a slab and the one thing left is Larry's little green oasis. And of course, he's pissed. Property that was his has already been taken. Mining companies have so much power in West Virginia. They'll take away land based on old deeds. Or they falsify deeds that are supposed to be from 150 years ago, like, "Your ancestors signed the rights away for two horses. See? They signed an X right here in 1857." Just imagine you own a house and it's got a deep foundation. Maybe it's a century-old house. Now imagine a mining company is putting explosives underneath your house for, let's say, 12 months. What's that going to do to your foundation and your plumbing? Basically they are extracting matter from underneath you. That's going to drastically affect your foundation and the substructure of your house. Is this a problem for Larry? Well, every picture frame in Larry's house is screwed into the wall. He has giant cracks in his house. A mine blast is a mini-earthquake. When we were walking to Larry's house we could see mine cracks where the land has just split open. Our camera guy was straddled over getting some shots, and all of a sudden, boom. An explosion goes off and we're standing right there. What exactly is mountaintop removal? It's a way of extracting coal from deposits under mountains. Instead of drilling into the mountain and sending men umoreless
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