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The Resurgence Of Coal And Coal Dust, And A Trip To The Dog Track

Greyhound Racing
Charlie Neibergall
/
AP
A greyhound competes in a race at the Iowa Greyhound Park, Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Dubuque, Iowa. After the end of a truncated season in Dubuque in May, the track here will close. By the end of the year, there will only be two tracks left in the country — in West Virginia.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we hear from a radiologist in eastern Kentucky who says he’s seeing a rise in cases of black lung among young coal miners.

We’ll also hear the first part of a new series from reporters Randy Yohe and Chris Schulz about the dog racing industry in West Virginia.

Then, we’ll travel to Monaca, Pennsylvania where Shell plans to begin operations at its massive ethane cracker plant.

Finally, our host Mason Adams speaks with Barbara Ellen Smith — the author of one of the definitive books on black lung, “Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle Over Black Lung Disease.”

That and more as we journey through Appalachia.

In This Episode:

  • Black Lung Appearing In Young Coal Miners 
  • Greyhound Racing In West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania Shell Plant
  • Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle Over Black Lung Disease

Black Lung Appearing In Young Coal Miners

We tend to associate black lung disease with older coal miners and retirees — but, according to a radiologist in eastern Kentucky, more and more young miners in their 20s and 30s are living with the disease, too.

Greyhound Racing In West Virginia

By 2023, West Virginia will have the only two remaining greyhound racetracks in the country. A state law commits West Virginia to support greyhound racing at two casinos — Mardis Gras Casino and Resort, just west of Charleston, and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in the northern panhandle.

In a new radio series, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporters Randy Yohe and Chris Schulz take us inside West Virginia’s dog racing world. Part one takes us to the track.

Pennsylvania Shell Plant

This summer, Shell plans to begin operations at its massive ethane cracker plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Since Shell first announced interest in the site in 2012, the prospect of new petrochemical investment in the Ohio River Valley has fueled hope — and fear.

For StateImpact Pennsylvania, The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier visited to find out what people think as the plant prepares to open.

"Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle Over Black Lung Disease"

Barbara Ellen Smith wrote one of the definitive books on black lung. She drew on her experience as an activist in the 1970s, and paired that with new research and interviews to write the 1987 book, “Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle over Black Lung Disease.” The book was then updated and republished in 2020. Mason Adams recently spoke with Smith about the past, present and future of black lung.

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Long Point String Band, Spencer Elliott, Barnstormin’, Dog and Gun, and Rich and the Po Boys.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Alex Runyon is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

You can also send us an email at InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org.

Stay Connected
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, mason.j.adams@gmail.com, @MasonAtoms
Inside Appalachia Producer, blynch@wvpublic.org, @LostHwys
Alex Runyon is a proud Huntington, West Virginia native. She attended Marshall University and earned degrees in creative writing and literary studies, dabbling in journalism, photography and women’s studies along the way. She worked as a freelance photographer and social media strategist before joining the Inside Appalachia team as Associate Producer. Alex enjoys writing and performing stand up comedy, hiking, screenwriting and playing board games. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia with her cat, Waylon Kittings. Follow her on Twitter @_AlexRunyon.