WVU to explore legacy of Buffalo Creek disaster - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WVU to explore legacy of Buffalo Creek disaster

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The West Virginia University College of Law will host a symposium to continue learning lessons from one of the worst tragedies in coal mining history.

Original attorneys and other experts will come together on the 42nd anniversary of the Buffalo Creek disaster to look into the legal and environmental legacy of the incident.

The Pittston Company dam at Buffalo Creek in Logan County burst without warning Feb. 26, 1972, sending a 130 million-gallon, 30-foot wall of water, coal sludge and waste materials through the Buffalo Valley. The incident killed 125 people and injured more than 1,000 people, leaving nearly 1,500 houses and mobile homes either destroyed or damaged, and 4,000 people were left homeless as a result.

The Buffalo Creek Symposium is free and open for the public to attend.

The symposium is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., Feb. 25 in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom. It will include a screening of two documentaries about the disaster created by filmmaker and community media activisit Mimi Pickering. The events will continue at 9 a.m. Feb. 26 in the Lugar Courtroom with opening remarks from WVU College of Law Dean Joyce E. McConnell and a video message from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. Rockefeller had just launched his first campaign for governor in 1972.

Attorney Gerald M. Stern was the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in one of the Buffalo Creek disaster class action lawsuits, dennis Prince et al. v. The Pittston Company.

Stern is the author of "The Buffalo Creek Disaster: The Story of the Survivors' Unprededented Lawsuit," and he will deliver the symposium's keynote address, "The Survivors' Lawsuit."

Most of the symposium will feature a series of panel discussions with lawyers who led the litigation that came after the disaster. Those lawyers include David N. Webster, Philip D. Gaujot, Brad Butler and Daniel R. Murdock.