CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Police have arrested eight mountaintop removal mining protesters for trespassing at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, Virginia.
For two hours Friday morning, protesters from Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People's Survival say they blocked the entrance to Alpha. They oppose the opening of two new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Both activist groups are based in West Virginia.
Alpha spokesman Steve Hawkins said the protest didn't prevent anyone from getting to work.
Bristol Police Department Lt. Vic Jordan said the protesters were arrested without incident. Several locked themselves together. Another dangled from a flagpole and hung a flag saying, "Save Coal River Mountain."
It's hardly the first public display against coal mining for Radical Action for Mountain Peoples' Survival.
The group's protesters also were arrested in May 2013, after blocking the road leading to Alpha.
In 2011, activists were arrested after camping out in a tree onsite an Alpha mine on Coal River Mountain. One stayed up for a month. The company and protesters disagreed whether it actually disrupted blasting operations.
Mountaintop mine operations blow up portions of mountains to unearth coal seams. Waste from the explosions is filled into valleys and streams, which can cause environmental damage.
Hawkins called Friday's protest a publicity stunt that squandered emergency and public safety resources, while costing taxpayers money.
"We certainly respect their right to protest, but they don't have the right to come onto private property to do so," Hawkins said in an email, "and they don't have the right to try and prevent Alpha employees from getting to work."
Alpha is the world's third largest metallurgical coal supplier. The company has 150 active mines and 40 coal preparation plants located throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.