Coal chemical spills in West Virginia, leaving 300,000 without tap water

Coal chemical spills in West Virginia, leaving 300,000 without tap water


What has Freedom Industries, a major supplier of chemicals to coal companies, done for the cause of freedom lately? It liberated thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical in Charleston, W.Va., poisoning drinking water for some 300,000 people and triggering state and federal emergencies. The Charleston Daily Mail has the appalling details:

The state Department of Environmental Protection estimates that between 2,000 and 5,000 gallons of a chemical used in coal processing leaked out of a 40,000-gallon holding tank along the Elk River.

An unknown amount of that … chemical then leaked through a secondary barrier and seeped through the ground and into the river, according to state officials.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin urged affected West Virginia American Water customers in [nine counties] to stop using water for everything other than flushing toilets and fire suppression.

“Do not drink it. Do not cook with it. Do not wash clothes in it. Do not take a bath in it,” Tomblin said. “For safety, we would ask everyone — this includes restaurants, hospitals, any institutions out there — please do not use any tap water if you’re a customer of West Virginia American Water.”

The contamination has led to the closures of schools and restaurants and sparked a run on bottled water, leaving store shelves empty. The National Guard is being called in to help distribute bottled water.

And how did Freedom Industries discover the leak of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol?

It didn’t. State officials discovered it after receiving reports of a licorice-like odor. Because companies like this prefer to be free of the responsibility of monitoring their own operations.

Water warning now in 9 counties; emergency supplies on order, Charleston Daily Mail
West Virginia chemical spill cuts water for up to 300,000, Reuters

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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Coal chemical spills in West Virginia, leaving 300,000 without tap water

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