Over 700 allege mining firm poisoned drinking water

Hundreds gather in West Virginia as judges begin 3-day mediation of slurry pollution lawsuit

No amount of money can compensate Russell Prince for the life of his 4-year-old daughter, but he and hundreds of families suing Massey Energy Co. traveled to Charleston on Monday in their continuing battle to hold the coal operator responsible for allegedly making them sick.

More than 700 current and former residents of Rawl, Lick Creek, Sprigg and Merrimac claim their water supply was contaminated after Massey and subsidiary Rawl Sales & Processing pumped 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry into worked-out underground mines.

They believe slurry, the byproduct of washing coal to make it burn more cleanly, then leached into their wells.

A panel of judges ordered them all to appear at the Charleston Civic Center for the start of a three-day settlement conference — some traveling from Ohio and the Carolinas — or risk being dropped from the long-running lawsuit.

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