Last Thursday, water from West Virginia's Elk River began to smell like licorice. The trouble was traced to a leak of methylcyclohexylmethanol from a one-inch hole in a storage tank just upstream from the plant treating water for 300,000 people, including those living in Charleston, the capital city. For five days, West Virginians were told, “don't drink the water — cook with it, shower, bathe the baby or wash your clothes." Levels of MCHM are finally being reduced, but nobody yet knows how much danger it's posing to public health. One of thousands of chemicals never tested for safety, MCHM is used in the coal industry, the driver of West Virginia's economy. The industry and its supporters attack EPA regulations as a “war against coal." Could regulatory enforcement have prevented the spill?
Is West Virginia's Water Crisis a Wake-up Call?
Robert Byers - Charleston Gazette - @RobByersWV, Richard Denison - Environmental Defense Fund - @RichardDenison, Matt Wasson - Appalachian Voices - @forthemountains, Ed Whitfield - House of Representatives - @RepEdWhitfield, Lynn Bergeson - Bergeson & Campbell