Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

WV Water Crisis!!

As we all should know by now, Freedom Industrial Inc., a chemical plant located along the Elk River in Southern WV had a massive chemical spill on January 9th.  This happened miles upstream from the states largest drinking water intake at the states capitol.  Resident downstream of the leak said they had detected the odor of the chemical weeks prior to this leak.  Reports keep referring to 300,000 people in my state were/are without fresh water.  From my understanding, it is more accurately stated 300,000 households are without water.  That's over 1 million people. As I have stated before, the resiliency and strength of all West Virginians is astounding, and this holds true today.  Look at how these people are surviving without water.  They have banned together like they do in every crisis and have helped each other through, as best they can.  Doing what is needed to provided for their families.

This chemical leak has made its way to the Ohio river and will then enter the Mississippi River.  I mean surely we all remember how the water cycle works.....This chemical spill should be a concern to everyone, not just those having to deal with a water shortage.  There have been numerous reports of health effects from this spill already.  Even after having their water deemed safe, people have had reactions to the water.  To top it off. There was a second chemical present in the tank that leaked and Freedom Industries, just told the authorities of this on 1/21.  That is 12 days after the spill.  12 days after consumption and exposure by some.  12 days ......????     No hurry, I guess..????

They were most certainly in an awful big hurry to take care of their financial situation.  Only 8 days after the leak they managed to file for bankruptcy, but I guess that was more important than the health and safety of the citizens affected by the toxic chemicals their company released.  Oh, but it only gets so much better....   So the company files for bankruptcy, to save itself from having to cover damages and costs that will now be picked up by the WV tax payer.  To File for chapter 11 they had to be financially sponsored by another corporation.  Which corporation would step up to do this??   Well a new one.  Incorporated the day of the bankruptcy filing.  A new one, that happens to share an owner with the very company filing for bankruptcy??  Sound fishy to you??

Freedom Industries is not the first company to use loopholes in WV laws to relieve themselves of the burden of having to clean up their own mess.  This has happened for years around our state.  Just take a look at the number of DEP water remediation sites set up around the state. WV citizens have had to pay for big companies messes for years.  Pay how?  Well in taxes for one, in lack of good paying jobs outside of the coal sector, in our health, in the destruction of our natural resources, land, we have even had to move schools because the safety of the children was jeopardized by a coal company!  Come On!!

Buffalo Creek Coal disaster
T&T Mine blow out
Marsh Fork Elementary School

The town of Bud, WV has not had drinkable or even usable water for over 5 months now.  You better believe they are still expected to pay the utility company for a service they are not being provided.  I don't know about you, but I hate it when the water company has to turn off the pipes for a day to fix them.  I do not like being without water.  I would much rather be without electricity than fresh water.
Our beautiful mountains
Acid Mine damage sites are scattered across the state, slurry impounds leach contaminants through the soils, contamination from old abandoned mines pollute wells, chemical spills, mountain top removal.......this state and her people have been taken advantage of for far to long.  This has been done in the name of progress, in which we have not seen.  I recently saw the "Hollow Documentary", it is a sadly accurate depiction of the majority of this state, although McDowell County is probably suffering more than others.  Our state was thriving when the companies took care of our people.  Now they just take advantage, and the hard working West Virginian and their families, and our state are to suffer.  In the mean time many out of state companies and their owners are raking in a hefty profit at our expense.

mountain streams
Almost heaven 

Over the years many grass roots organizations have formed to help protect West Virginia water ways.  Friends of the Cheat is dedicated to restore, preserve and promote the natural qualities of the Cheat river water shed.  The end of this water shed was the site of the Muddy Creek blow out at T&T mines.  The beginning of this watershed is the Birthplace of Rivers.  Some of the cleanest, undisturbed, mountain streams in the state.  Friends of Deckers Creek, work to cleanup and promote the qualities of Deckers Creek in Monongahela County.

The Coal River Mountain Watch, help protect communities from the devastating effects of Mountaintop mining (MTM).  For those who don't know, the tops of the mountains are used to fill in valleys, which most often contain mountain streams.

Keeper of the Mountains also helps raise awareness of the harm MTM has done to our state and the health of its people.

Save the Tygart is working hard to help clean up the Acid Mine drainage along the Tygart River

Please feel free to support any of these organizations in any way you can.  You can also contact your local, or feel free to contact our elected, officials and let them know we demand clean water!!  Our state Senators are currently debating new standards now.  They apparently feel that regulations required to protect human health are too costly and are asking for studies to be redone and parts of a presented bill to be eliminated,all to help reduce cost to big corporations.   These regulation have been needed for a good long time, and if proper care would have been taken along the way the cost they are facing now would not be so large.  They have been using WV as a toxic dumping ground for years and now that they could face serious yet fair regulations, they are pulling out every politician, whose campaign they have ever contributed to, to handle the situation fast.
If this had happened in your state, or your city, would it have been handled differently?  How would you react?  What would you ask your government to do to protect your rights over those of big corporations?  There is a Facebook page called Friends of Water, and they have a lot of info on contribution sites, and the contamination, as well as local stories for a better perspective as to what these people are dealing with.
Why is this important to you?  Well for starters, only 2.5% of all the water on earth is fresh water.  It is being polluted at a rapid pace.  If water is vital to all living things, how can we let the pollution continue?  Isn't it our right to protect our families, and future generations?  No amount of corporate greed is worth the sacrifice of our clean fresh mountain water.