This research note describes two simultaneous events: the Martin County coal waste disaster of October 2000 and our own research efforts in Martin County, Kentucky, in studying the effects of the disaster on the impacted community. Our research was unique in that we involved a large team of undergraduate students in our field and data collections efforts. We also applied more democratic and participatory methods than has been typical in the "techno-disasters" research. We believe that our expanded method has allowed us to glean insights and understanding into the effects and political dynamics of the Martin County coal waste disaster. In this note, we report some of our findings from both our field interviews and survey data. As in other case studies, we found high levels of blame and distrust of the coal company and of federal and state agencies. Much of this deep citizen distrust, as we came to learn, was due to EPA yielding power of jurisdiction to the responsible party. Many citizens simply distrusted the risk assessments and water test data being put forward by the coal company.

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