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HERE'S THE CONCLUSION TO THIS ARTICLE!(mysteriously left out when posted online, though it appeared in the print version)-----------------------
Site: DDBottle: DDPictures: 42-44GPS Coordinates: N 36 deg 24.278Speed: 0.5Temperature: 22 CTurbidity: 50 JTULocation: 1 mile South on 27 from Junction with 63 before the New River Missionary Baptist Church. River passes under the road.Appearance: There is some neon orange floaty foam in spots. Water is otherwise fairly clear, bottom is sedimented.Date: July 11, 2006
-- Field notes from a UMD stream health analysis
A neon orange stream in a valley below a mountaintop removal site is a common indicator of contamination from heavy metals and sulfur compounds from mining waste up at the headwaters of the stream. For the past three years volunteers with United Mountain Defense have combed the valleys and hollows below some of Tennessee’s largest mountaintop mining operations to gather field data to document environmental impacts and TDEC permit violations. The volunteers cruise along valley roads looking for readily accessible places to collect water samples and take measurements, pictures, and field notes, including detailed descriptions of the locations. It is likely not a coincidence that so many of the location descriptions in the field notes mention nearby Missionary or Primitive Baptist Churches, since ritual baptisms have traditionally been performed in the mountain streams near these churches. As a Mennonite, LEAF member Thea Yoder is quite familiar with the practice of stream or river baptism, since it is widely practiced in her denomination. As she contemplates the condition of the waters by the mountain churches, she seems to be describing what sin looks like. “I think we separate ourselves from God by separating ourselves from our environment. The profits that some people are making don’t trickle down to that mountain church, and whoever is doing this has never seen the poor people in this area. Christians don’t always know who or what is making this water orange but we do know that this part of God’s creation is no longer clean, and that’s what we must change.”Chris Irwin is not a Christian, but he ventures to guess that baptism in neon orange water is “not a preferred method.” His pagan tendencies notwithstanding, he also thinks that “the pollution of Christian mountain culture is at least at sinful as pollution of the water.” So even though he and the Creation Care Christians generally maintain a respectful distance from each other, he is glad the Christians have arrived. “I think the enviros can’t pull this off by themselves,” he admits. “When Dawn showed up on my porch and said ‘God has called to me to stop this,’ I said ‘Go. It’s about time.’”
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