The destruction of Appalachia through mountain top removal continues to be a heated topic. The film documentary Sludge reveals in stark detail the coal slurry damage in Martin County, Kentucky, in October 2000 that destroyed over 100 miles of stream and hundreds of homes. A break in the slurry pond dam caused massive environmental destruction by dumping 306 millions gallons of coal sludge down two tributaries of the Tug Fork River. The film, which will be moderated by Jack Spadaro, former Superintendent of the National Mine Safety and Health Academy, will be shown on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m, in Torgersen 3100 on the Virginia Tech campus. This event is free and open to the public.

"This epic disaster mysteriously slipped under the radar screen of the media and general public," said Anita Puckett, director of the Appalachian studies program in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The destruction was 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, ranks as one of the worst disasters in the southeastern United States.

Sludge, in which Spadaro appears, is the product of over four years of work by Appalshop filmmaker Robert Salyer. Following the film, Spadaro will conduct an open question and answer period on issues covered by the documentary and that pertain to his current work as expert witness and coalfield environmental disaster expert. Spadaro has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including 60 Minutes and National Public Radio. The Appalachian Studies Association has named its annual best Appalachian documentary film award in his honor.

Currently, Spadaro works as a mine safety and health and environmental specialist. He has a 38-year career safeguarding people from environmental and health and safety hazards related to mining. He continues to serve as an expert witness and consultant in environmental and mine health and safety litigation.

The screening is hosted by the Appalachian Studies Program and is co-sponsored by mountain justice, the humanities program at Virginia Tech, and the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciencs at Virginia Tech. For further information, contact Anita Puckett, (540) 231-9526 or e-mail

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The College nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management; Communication; English; Foreign Languages & Literatures; History; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; ROTC; Science and Technology in Society; Sociology; Theatre Arts; the School of the Arts; and the School of Education.

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