Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Zip Codes and Chemical Spills

Eugene Robinson on the West Virginia chemical spill that fouled drinking water for 300,000 people:
I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if this had happened on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in one of the wealthier Zip codes of Southern California.
Or if it was suspected terrorism.... The entire country would still be in lockdown. Perhaps as long as the terrorists first form an company with an Orwellian name like "Freedom Industries," they can dump whatever they want, declare bankruptcy to evade all responsibility, and have politicians ignore them -- or, did Sen. Joe Manchin, tell CNN that he is “not going to cast guilt on anybody.”

Manchin -- a Democrat -- is into the industry up to his eyeballs: "In his maiden speech on the Senate floor, Mr. Manchin called for the repeal of a Clean Water Act regulation on mountaintop mining. His Senate financial disclosures state that he made nearly $1.5 million a year in 2011 and 2012 from his coal brokerage firm. He is a current co-sponsor of a bill that would block President Obama’s efforts to regulate global-warming gases." (Does Manchin know his brain belongs to the other party?)

It wasn't until yesterday that the company admitted there was another chemical in the same spill, called "PPH," for which there is also no data on long-term health effects.

The governor of West Virginia would give no reassurances:
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Monday told 300,000 state residents that they should make their own decisions about using water from West Virginia American Water's Elk River plant in the wake of this month's leak of the chemical Crude MCHM.

"It's your decision," the governor told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. "If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water."

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