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Sylvester, WV

The Dustbuster Sisters of Sylvester

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Pauline Canterberry and Mary Miller are known as the “Dustbuster Sisters,” due to their efforts to make the Massey Energy Corporation adequately control the emission of coal dust from Elk Run, a nearby mine.

The following is the text from a comment letter written by Pauline Canterberry to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection on November 3, 2005.

Re: Public Review Permit No. U5003-5
Haskel Boytek, Permit Supervisor

For the past eight (8) years, life in the community of Sylvester West Virginia has been a living Hell of black coal dust, nerve shattering noises and broken promises, while we have watched our homes be destroyed, and respiratory illness invade our bodies, after the Department of Environmental Protection issued Elk Run Mining permit # D21-82, without considering the impact it would have on our community. Many of those problems still remain unsolved.

I sincerely pray the issuance of permit # U 5003-05 doesn’t start a chain reaction of the same problems, but instead the DEP has learned through their mistake and will make provisions in this permit to protect the Community of Sylvester. We do not oppose coal mining, but we do demand that it be done responsibly so as to protect our Town and its Citizens.

We request that all blasting to open the driftmouth for this mine be kept at a minimum to protect our homes from further damages.

We request warning lights or signs be placed at the entrance to this facility from Route #3 as it is located in a blind curve.

Builder Levy photography

Photo by Builder Levy

We request that all trucks hauling coal from this facility before the beltline is finished be enclosed traveling loaded or empty to prevent coal dust leaving them while traveling through Sylvester to the Elk Run Facility, that their speed not exceed thirty (30) miles per hour, to limit damage done to an already broken and cracked highway.

We request the Belt Line which will cross Route #3, Coal River, the Railroad Yard and any excess land be completely covered from exiting one mountain and entering the opposite mountain to assure no coal dust leaving it and entering the airway.

We request Elk Run protect and secure the Cemetary that lies at the railroad entrance of the Belt Line, where Benjamin White, who the Town of Whitesville was named for, is buried.

We request the sewage facilities for this permit be connected to and serviced by the Boone-Raleigh Public Serive District PSD as each resident in this community is required to do, this will eliminate any doubt of fecal contamination draining into Round Bottom Ranch, the Town of Sylvester and the Coal River, a river as reported from a study released this past year on the Coal River Watershed, which is already over contaminated with fecal matter.

We feel these requests are just and in compliance with the West Virginia Codes for mining and reclamation and the public service district, as well as the welfare of the Citizens in the community of Sylvester.

Massey Energy as sole owner of Elk Run Mining Company spends millions of dollars begging people to believe they are good neighbors, when all they need to do is earn it in their everyday actions and deeds.

In the future I respectfully request that all meetings pertaining to the welfare of the citizens of the Sylvester community be held at the Sylvester Community Center, it is adequate and available to accomodate such a meeting, our population is sixty (60) percent elderly seniors who are unable to travel over congested highways, yet deserve the respect of being able to participate in matters that are important to their lives.

I sincerely hope this is a much wiser and compassionate representation of the DEP and Elk Run Mining officials than we faced November 1, in 1997, which was a black day for the Community of Sylvester, for they left us with no alternative than to fight for our very existence, which we intend to do till Justice once again prevails.

Submitted by:
Pauline Canterberry
Resident, Town of Sylvester, WV

2 Responses to “The Dustbuster Sisters of Sylvester”

  1. Ernest Spangler Says:


    I’m sorry to have read about what has happened to Sylvester and Whitesville. I remember from my childhood during visits to Whitesville how wonderful the mountains were and am saddened that they are no longer pristine.

    Your nephew,

    Ernest Spangler

  2. vinnyjadge Says:

    I am with you Sylvester community members, Peace.

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