Thursday, January 16, 2014

West Virginia Toxic Spill


By Norris McDonald

I am dismayed by the spilling of toxic chemicals into the Elk River in West Virginia.  The citizens of Charleston deserve better.  There are complaints about a lack of oversight at this facility and that is unacceptable.  However, I know that EPA cannot monitor and police every facility with chemicals in the United States.  A number of laws, including RCRA, CERCLA, TOSCA and others, are already on the books that are designed to inform and protect the public from toxic chemicals.  Unfortunately, accidents such as this one will happen.  It comes with the territory of utilizing chemicals to provide the American way of life.

West Virginia authorities are slowly lifting a five-day ban on tap water that has been in effect since a toxic chemical spill contaminated the state’s water supply last week. More than 300,000 people have not been able to drink, cook or even bathe with tap water.

The crisis began when 7,500 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries, located on the Elk River just north of the capital Charleston and the region’s water supply treatment facility. Citizens first noticed something was wrong when the water started to smell like licorice.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Monday that some water tests show chemical components are now below toxic levels, making it safe to use and consume.

Federal authorities are investigating the chemical plant that spilled the toxins. (PBS, 1/14/2014)

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