"In lawsuits targeting the coal operator Arch, residents contend that mining activity has disrupted their lives and emitted a gas that threatens their safety and the planet."
"THORNTON, W.Va.—Month-old kittens scamper around, tumbling into one another on the grass. A black-and-white border collie, Maggie, nestles against the side of a farmhouse and nurses a puppy. Beef cattle graze on the hillside behind the house, which has been vacant since last summer—when, without warning, the water well went dry.
At the time, Jim and Melissa Nestor were raising three boys on their farm in a lush green valley three miles south of Thornton, a town along U.S. Highway 50 with a church, a towing service, a post office and no stoplight.
When the Nestors disconnected the well’s pump to see if that was the problem, they heard a loud sound: “Woooshhhh,” Melissa Nestor recalled, blowing air out of puckered lips.
“It was like, whoa,’’ Nestor said. “Gas was coming up out of the well. It’s a wonder we didn’t have a major catastrophe right there, like an explosion caused by a spark from a power tool.” "