Tag Archives: west virginia

Second chemical spill in West Virginia river

February 11, 2014. Source: AllVoices

Another chemical spill in W. Virginia; Kanawha Eagle Plant leaks coal slurry into Fields Creek.  Photo courtesy Jeremy Edwards

Another chemical spill in W. Virginia; Kanawha Eagle Plant leaks coal slurry into Fields Creek. Photo courtesy Jeremy Edwards

Another coal company has spilled an undetermined amount of chemicals into a West Virginia river, reported The Huffington Post Tuesday.

According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, crude MCHM, the same chemical that leaked into the Elk River from last month’s Freedom Industry’s spill, leaked from a broken slurry line into the Kanawha Eagle preparation plant near Winifrede, sometime between midnight Monday and 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

More than 300,000 residents’ water was contaminated from the Jan. 9 spill from Freedom Industries but West Virginia American Water Company is confident this spill will not affect the water supply of any county because there are no immediate public water intakes downstream to this plant.

West Virginia America Water released a statement assuring the public that their employees were working together with state officials to gather more information on the spill. Continue reading

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West Virginia chemical spill: A crisis 14 days in the making

By Will Bennington. January 24, 2014.

For anyone who is wondering, the water crisis in West Virginia is still just that: A crisis, and one that doesn’t seem to be getting much better as time passes.

I arrived in southern West Virginia two days ago.  For the past two weeks, local organizers, working with the West Virginia Clean Water Hub (check them out on Facebook), have been delivering water to rural communities impacted by the Freedom Industries chemical spill.  While the state has declared the crisis over, people on the ground know the water is still contaminated.  Distribution to remote areas is difficult, and there is still a huge need for more water and more money. (Note: Please consider donating to the West Virginia Clean Water Hub here, through Keeper of the Mountains.  All money will be used to purchase water and supplies for communities impacted by the spill).

Earlier this week, Freedom Industries admitted that there was another chemical, PPH, that spilled along with MCHM.  While initial testing did not detect “harmful” levels of PPH, the West Virginia and federal governments are still considering the crisis over.  However, given the all-too-late revelation of the second chemical, many affected people have little reason to trust what so-called authorities are telling them.

Yesterday, while out delivering water to a remote hollow in Boone County, almost every household we visited reported licorice-smelling water, rashes or burns from using the water to bathe or wash dishes.  One resident, a coal miner, said he hasn’t drunk the water for twenty years, and that he certainly won’t ever drink it now.

Residents with young children are running out of money to purchase diapers and baby wipes.  A middle-aged father, presumably a miner, told us that he had “broken down to wash dishes” but had to stop after his hands started burning “as if I had put them in a fire.”  He said his wife tried taking a shower, but broke out in rashes soon after.

While the West Virginia state government began closing down emergency distribution centers earlier this week and the National Guard and Red Cross stopped delivering water aid, many residents are left wondering what happens next.  Where will they get water?  Who can answer their questions or tell them if their water is safe?  Who is going to be held responsible, not only for the initial contamination, but for the lackluster state and federal response?

Volunteers with networks like the West Virginia Clean Water Hub seem to be the only people committed to finding solutions to this crisis.  As state and federal agencies try to declare an end to the crisis, it is up to the grassroots to organize their communities to demand justice and ensure access to safe, clean drinking water.

This may well offer a prophetic glimpse into the future:  The state, acting in the interest of the extractive and chemical industries, is unable to adequately respond to human rights crises like the one in West Virginia.  As the state tries to declare “mission accomplished” as soon as possible, hoping to dodge the next news cycle or further scrutiny and pressure from the public, communities are left to fend for themselves.    In West Virginia, where regulation of the coal, chemical, timber and gas industries is virtually nonexistent, people already have little reason to trust the state as guardian of the public’s well being.  After this crisis, which is far from over, conditions seem ripe to completely change the system that puts toxic chemicals within reach of the drinking supply of 300,000 people.

People in West Virginia seem ready for a change.  Grassroots organizers and environmental justice advocates are up to the challenge.  But whatever the outcome, the situation here is still dire, and the hollows and hills of West Virginia need all the support they can get.

Will Bennington is a campaigner for the Global Justice Ecology Project.

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KPFK Earth Watch: Hundreds of thousands hit by water crisis in wake of West Virginia chemical spill

kpfk_logoJohanna de Graffenreid from the Citizen Action for Real Enforcement Campaign in West Virginia discusses the fallout of the January 9th chemical spill which left over 300,000 people without water, and the history of lax regulatory enforcement of extractive industries in WV.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Coal, Earth Radio, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, KPFK, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, Water

West Virginia chemical spill hits water supplies

January 10, 2014. Source: Reuters

Workers pump a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process at Freedom Industries in Charleston. Photograph: Tyler Evert/AP

Workers pump a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process at Freedom Industries in Charleston. Photograph: Tyler Evert/AP

A chemical spill along a West Virginia river has resulted in a tap water ban for as many as 300,000 people, shutting down schools, bars and restaurants and forcing residents to queue at stores for bottled water.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for nine counties as a result of Thursday’s spill of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, a chemical used in the coal industry. The spill occurred along the Elk river in Charleston, the capital of the eastern US state.

Health officials were advising residents to use the water only for flushing toilets and fighting fires.

“West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged not to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing,” Tomblin said in a statement. “Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes and schools.” Continue reading

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West Virginia activists boat onto sludge pond, confront Gov. Tomblin on dangers of coal sludge

21 August, 2013. Source: Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS)

Two activists boated onto the Shumate Sludge Dam to tell Gov. Tomblin to put Health over Profit. Photo: RAMPS

Two activists boated onto the Shumate Sludge Dam to tell Gov. Tomblin to put Health over Profit. Photo: RAMPS

Charleston, W.Va. – This morning at 7:30 a.m. two activists paddled out onto the 2.8 billion gallon Shumate slurry impoundment in Raleigh County with banners reading, “Slurry Poisons Appalachia” and “Gov. Tomblin, Put Health Over Profit.”  Later this morning, one activist locked himself to a barrel of black water in front of Gov. Tomblin’s mansion in a Tyvek suit reading “Locked to Dirty Water”.   Activists are calling attention to the failure of the state government to protect its citizens from the abuses of the coal industry and the threats posed by coal slurry disposal.

“I grew up in Eunice drinking water poisoned by coal slurry, went to Marsh Fork Elementary under that dam, breathed the dust from that prep plant, and I’ve suffered the lifelong health consequences of that.  These same abuses are taking place today across our great state, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Gov. Tomblin,” said Junior Walk of Rock Creek, W.Va. who attended today’s protest at the Governor’s mansion. Continue reading

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Explosion at West Virginia frack site seriously injures four

Note: how many fossil fuel disasters–not to mention climate crises–will it take before we transform our world away from its devastating addiction to extreme energy.

–GJEP Team

By John Upton, July 9, 2013. Source: Grist

Fire at a West Virginia frack site in 2010. Photo: Wetzel County Action Group

Fire at a West Virginia frack site in 2010. Photo: Wetzel County Action Group

Federal investigators are trying to figure out what caused an explosion at a West Virginia fracking site over the weekend. The blast injured at least seven people, including four workers who were sent to a hospital with life-threatening burns.

Residents and activists have long complained about safety practices by frackers operating in the state, where they draw natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation. Traffic accidents involving trucks traveling to and from frack sites in the state are common, and explosions can be deadly.

Hydraulic fracturing was not underway at the time of Sunday’s blast in Doddridge County. The explosion occurred 50 yards away from the work crew and it did not involve the drilling rig. From Reuters:
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KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Dustin White on the struggle to stop mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia

kpfk_logoDustin White, an organizer from Boone County, West Virginia, discusses recent actions targeting the EPA’s failure to address the grave impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on rural communities.  Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Breaking: Activists disrupt Arch Coal corporate headquarters

January 22 2013. Source: RAMPS

Photo: RAMPS

Photo: RAMPS

Seven protesters affiliated with the RAMPS campaign (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival), MORE(Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) and Mountain Justice are locked down to a 500-pound small potted tree in Arch Coal’s third-floor headquarters while a larger group is in the lobby performing a song and dance.  Additionally, a helium balloon banner with the message “John Eaves Your Coal Company Kills”, directed at the Arch Coal CEO was released in at the Arch Coal headquarters.

“We’re here to halt Arch’s operations for as long as we can. These coal corporations do not answer to communities, they only consume them.  We’re here to resist their unchecked power,” explained Margaret Fetzer, one of the protestors.

Arch Coal, the second largest coal company in the U.S., operates strip mines in Appalachia and in other U.S. coal basins. Strip mining is an acutely destructive and toxic method of mining coal, and resource extraction disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mining, Mountaintop Removal

Victory! Patriot Coal to stop mountaintop removal mining

By Vicki Smith, November 15 2012. Source: Associated Press

Photo: Concordia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. agreed Thursday to become the first U.S. coal operator to phase out and eventually stop all large-scale mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia under an agreement reached with three environmental groups that sued over pollution from several West Virginia operations.

St. Louis-based Patriot said the proposed agreement allows it to postpone as much as $27 million in expenses into 2014 and beyond, improving its liquidity and the likelihood it can successfully emerge from Chapter 11 protection as a viable business.

The deal comes as Patriot tackles litigation that must be resolved during those proceedings. The terms would be binding on any subsidiaries it sells or spins off.

Presented to U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington for consideration, the agreement stemmed from water pollution lawsuits filed by the Sierra ClubOhio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Continue reading

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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mountaintop Removal, Victory!

Remembering the “Mountain Keeper,” Larry Gibson

By Dave Cooper, September 11, 2012. Source: Mountaintop Removal Road Show

Photo: EarthJustice

An American hero has passed away. Larry Gibson, the “Mountain Keeper” from West Virginia who fought to save his family’s ancestral land on top of Kayford Mountain for over 25 years died of a heart attack on Sunday on his beloved mountain. A public memorial service will be announced at a later date on Larry’s Keeper of the Mountains Foundation website. Please visit the site and make a donation in memory of Larry.

When I first met Larry in March, 1998 I wasn’t too sure what to think of him. But we hit it off, and he ended up changing my life. I visited Larry’s mountain shortly after hearing him speak at a Kentucky Sierra Club meeting, and Im still working on the mountaintop removal issue 14 years later. He changed many other lives, too.

I wanted to write something to you all because I knew that many people across the country still may have not heard the news about Larry – and I’ve struggled about what to write.

Larry was such an inspiring, complex, awesome, dogged and determined person that writing a proper tribute to him is really difficult. So I’ve decided to just let Larry’s words speak for him.

I called Larry’s answering machine today, and it was good to hear his voice one last time: Continue reading

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