Fossil fuels are a disaster: literally in WV

300,000 people have their drinking water poisoned by a coal chemical in a disaster declared by a state and the federal government. Do we know what’s in that coal ash coal ash in the Lowndes County landfill? Do we trust a pipeline company with a long list of safety violations to dig into our aquifer?

David Jackson wrote for USA Today yesterday, Obama sends disaster aid to West Virginia,

President Obama is sending federal assistance to West Virginia, where schools and businesses are closed after a chemical spill Thursday into a Charleston river.

“The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of West Virginia and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts,” said an administration statement on Friday morning.

Under the order, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate efforts with local officials.

Kiley Kroh wrote for Thinkprogress yesterday, West Virginia Declares State Of Emergency After Coal Chemical Contaminates Drinking Water,

Residents of nine counties in West Virginia have been told not to use or drink their water after a chemical used by the coal industry spilled into the Elk River on Thursday. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency as more than 100,000 customers, or 300,000 people, are without safe drinking water.

“Don’t make baby formula,” said West Virginia American Water Company president Jeff McIntyre. “Don’t brush your teeth. Don’t shower. Toilet flushing only.”

Ned Resnikoff wrote for MSNBC yesterday, West Virginia chemical spill leaves 300,000 without clean water,

The leak started in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital, the county seat for Kanawha County, and the state’s largest city. Local officials became aware that something was wrong around 10 am Thursday morning, after residents called to complain of a black licorice smell in the water, according to Kanawha County director of homeland security and emergency management Dale Petry. After consultation with the local health department and state authorities, the West Virginia American Water Company warning went out a little before 6 p.m.

“This has been devastating to the public at large and the people who live in our city,” said Mayor Danny Jones of Charleston, W.Va. in a Friday morning press conference.

Shades of the Waycross Seven Out Superfund site:

The spill originated at a chemical storage facility run by the Charleston-based company Freedom Industries, when a 48,000 gallon tank dumped an indeterminate amount of the compound 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the Elk River. The chemical, also known as MCHM, is used by coal companies to wash and prepare their product. People who are exposed to a sufficient quantity of MCHM may experience vomiting, skin blistering and shortness of breath. Very little is known about the other potential health consequences of exposure to the compound.

Ken Ward Jr. wrote for yesterday, Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill,

Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.

What do we know about what burned at Perma-Fix in Valdosta in August or what is leaking from that chemical treatment plant into our aquifer or downhill into the Withlacoochee River?

Greg Botelho and Tom Watkins wrote for CNN today, Chemical levels in West Virginia water drop, but still no end in sight to ban,

Freedom Industries is feeling the heat from others as well.

President Gary Southern tried several times to walk away from a press conference Friday evening, saying “it has been an extremely long day,” only to be called back by insistent reporters — including one who noted how long a day it has been for all the West Virginians now without drinkable water or a full explanation as to why.

“This incident is extremely unfortunate and unanticipated,” Southern said. “… This has been a very, very taxing process.”

Poor baby: feeling taxed because his company poisoned drinking water for 300,000 people.

Shauna Johnson wrote for MetroNews yesterday, Company president tells different leak story than DEP,

Southern said the problem tank had been emptied by Friday evening and its contents were moved off site. The next step in remediation, he said, would be to remove dirt that may be contaminated from the property.

That “next step” still isn’t done in Waycross many years later. Once contamination gets into the ground, it’s very hard to get it back out.

The CNN story concluded:

“I do not know how long this will last,” the governor said.

Cassady Sharp wrote for Greenpeace yesterday, Hours before chemical spill, West Virginia Governor promises to keep coal industry “alive and well”.

The disaster of continued spills and contamination will last until we got off of fossil fuels.

How about we stop poisoning people with coal and fracked “natural” gas (no, nukes are not the answer), and get on with solar and wind power?