Tuesday, January 14, 2014

West Virginia's Response to the Newest Chamical Disaster

The recent MEBS spill on the banks of the Elk River is the third environmental chemical disaster to occur in West Virginia in the last five years.
The first occurred in 2008 at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute West Virginia. There was an explosion of a chemical waste tank containing chemicals used in fertilizers and pesticides in which two people lost their lives. The investigation went on for the better part of two years and resulted in 2010 of recommendations for better safety rules, set backs from water courses and better oversight of chemical facilities operating in West Virginia. In that same year in Belle West Virginia there was a release of toxic gas from a Dupont chemical plant that resulted in the death of one worker.
Again everyone consulted together. There were meetings after meetings and plans were drafted in the hope this would “never happen again.” These plans were polished and run by or perhaps even written by lobbyists for the chemical and mining industries that dominate the economy and politics of the Mountain State. The state's official motto (by act of its legislature) is the snappy Montani Semper Liberi which is roughly rendered in English as “Mountain Men are Always Free.” Apparently mountain men and women are not free from being poisoned by chemical explosions, leaks, and the poisoning of the state's somewhat potable water supply but they are free from those oppressive job killing regulations so hated by GOP congress critters and their pet tea baggers.. The current president of the West Virginia Senate told two reporters for the New York Times that the measure died because no one championed it in the Senate. No one championed it? Is he kidding? What do Mountain state legislators champion and enact in to law? State mottoes, state animals, state fish and state minerals? But they can not get reasonable health and safety laws enacted because no member has championed it? That says a lot about the state's legislature and the creatures inhabiting it.
Well here we are again. It's 2013 and another environmental disaster has occurred in  Somalia West. This disaster has affected some 300,000 customers of a for-profit run from New Jersey seller of domestic water service. Everyone has jumped on the band wagon this time for sure. Even the US Attorney for the southern district of West Virginia, R. Booth Goodwin II, is investigating this time in order to determine if any laws of the US have been violated in this latest disaster. On January 10th Mr. Goodwin released the following statement to the press on this latest disaster:
“Yesterday’s release of a potentially dangerous chemical into our water supply has put hundreds of thousands of West Virginians at risk, severely disrupted our region’s economy, and upended people’s daily lives. My office and other federal law enforcement authorities have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the release. We will determine what caused it and take whatever action is appropriate based on the evidence we uncover.
I sure hope Mr. Goodwin has run that statement by the people and corporations that actually run West Virginia before making it. What will be the result of this investigation of this disaster? More meetings, more pressers, more smoke? More mirrors? More pollution and more coming environmental disasters is my guess. I am sorry to say that this will soon be forgotten and things will return to business as usual in the Mountain state.

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