“As over 300,000 people in West Virginia face a fourth day without water, state environmental officials are now estimating that as much as 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to process coal — Crude MCHM — may have spilled into the Elk River. That number is a substantial increase from early estimates of 2,000 to 5,000 gallons.The New York Times reported Saturday that at least 122 people have gone to local hospitals complaining of nausea, vomiting, and skin and eye irritation.” -Thinkprogress.org
Yeah, you heard right, 300,000 people in West Virginia currently without water for FOUR days (now five). No water at all. No baths, no drinks, no ice, no nothing, and the local water company president says it will likely be several days until the water is safe again. This also means that any business that uses water in great amounts (food service, schools, hospitals, hotels, community centers, etc) will be unable to serve until the issue is resolved, creating an economic crisis for an already impoverished state.
Now, I have been seeing articles about this all over, but that’s because I peruse aggregated content environmental news websites daily. However, this scathing Huffington Post article details just how little coverage from major news networks there was on the first few days of the spill. Here’s a synopsis- pretty much nobody mentioned the biggest chemical disaster since the Deepwater Horizons spill.
To add insult to injury, the same day of the incident, the US House passed the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, which would ultimately eliminate requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency to review and update hazardous-waste disposal regulations in a timely manner, and make it more difficult for the government to compel companies that deal with toxic substances to carry proper insurance for cleanups, pushing the cost on to taxpayers.
The sad thing is, this isn’t the first or the last time West Virginia (or other states) will have to struggle with poisoned water supply due to fossil fuel extraction. People have been complaining for decades about mountain top removal’s impact on clean water, and with new bills giving way to less and less corporate responsibility, the fuel-rich state will have a lot to deal with in coming years.
So, what are we going to do about it?