West Virginia Water Crisis: Behind Chemical Spill, Gaping Holes in State and Federal Regulation


democracynow

Published on Jan 14, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – The Freedom Industries site behind the West Virginia chemical spill is just a mile upriver from the state’s largest water treatment plant, owned by American Water. But despite the obvious dangers to the source of 16 percent of West Virginia resident’s water supply, the spill has exposed major holes in how the state regulates the dangerous chemicals used coal mining and processing, its leading industry. The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (Crude MCHM), does not receive close federal or state oversight. Environmental inspectors have not visited the Freedom Industries facility since 1991. Under West Virginia law, chemicals storage facilities are not even subject to inspections. The plant also had no groundwater protection plan in place. We speak with Mike Elk, a labor reporter for In These Times Magazine who has extensively covered chemical regulation in the United States, including at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant where 15 people died in an explosion last year. And we’re joined from West Virginia by Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist and consumer advocate.

Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

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