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Commission to discuss underground mine testing facility on county line

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission will see a second presentation today regarding a proposed underground mine testing facility on the Randolph-Pocahontas County line.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health wants to use the 460-acre tract near Mace as the future site of a research center and testing laboratory for underground mine safety.

At the last Randolph County Commission meeting, a group of Pocahontas County residents spoke about their objections to the project and asked commissioners to write a letter to West Virginia’s federal government representatives seeking to stop the project.

“This site is inappropriate for this project,” Jeanne Bell, a resident of Snowshoe, told commissioners at that meeting. “The entire surrounding community relies on drinking water from wells and springs located in the Greenbrier Limestone formation.

“Our water will be vulnerable to contamination by diesel, hydraulic fluids, nitrate and ammonia from blasting, and the carcinogenic chemicals used in fire foam both above ground in the Experimental Fire Suppression Facility and underground in the mine.”

“The CDC site is adjacent to Snowshoe,” Bell said. “The proposed CDC/NIOSH site does not belong next to an internationally recognized resort and ride center.”

“What would you do if this project were proposed in your neighborhood, across the street or upwind from your home?” Bell asked commissioners.

Ellie Bell, another Pocahontas County resident who said she has a degree in soil science from West Virginia University, said, “We’re not against coal … this is just not the place for it, next to a world-renowned resort.”

She said she participated in sending a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., with 350 signatures opposing the project.

“Our water is well and spring,” Fred Adkins, who lives on Mingo Flats Road, told commissioners. “There’s got to be areas that are more remote (for the project).”

Randolph County Commissioner Mark Scott said at that meeting that the commission needed to gather more information about the subject before making a decision about whether to write a letter to federal officials.

The presentation set for today’s commission meeting will be by people who are in favor of the NIOSH project.

The Randolph County Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. today in the James F. Cain Annex.

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