Much of the country has heard that West Virginia’s water has been deemed safe following the spill of about 7,500 gallons of Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the Elk River. The chemical, used in the coal industry, has been known to cause uncontrolled vomiting, diarrhea, blisters, and other serious health problems not just when ingested–but when even touched. This number has increased since area residents’ water was deemed “safe for use,” and that number is staggering!
Nine West Virginia counties, for most of a week, were under an order not to use the water for anything. Then, like magic, the order was lifted and it was back to business as usual–except that residents flooded West Virginia American Water’s facebook page with complaints that the water was burning them. The licorice smell that accompanies that sort of contamination was still there. Many residents turned to the relief trucks that had provided some “bring your own container” relief to the citizens of the area–and then it became known that the water company was filling relief trucks with the exact same water that was making residents sick, despite claiming that they were filled in another system.
Numerous civil suits have been filed against the company–fortunately for them, there’s a fix! Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy, which allows them to completely dodge any civil penalties. Conveniently, the Koch-affiliated chemical company found financial backing for a bankruptcy loan–Mountaineer Funding LLC. Mountaineer Funding came into existence the very same day that the filing was made, and both companies are owned by J. Clifford Forrest. In essence, Mr. Forrest has found a way to stick West Virginia taxpayers with the bill for his company’s negligence.
All the while, the tainted water continues to ravage the area communities. On January 12, the day before the do-not-use order lifts began, health department officials noted 10 hospital admissions and 169 people treated and released. There were more than 1,000 calls to the poison control center. By Saturday, when the final areas were given the “go-ahead” with their water those numbers had spiked dramatically. Twenty people had been admitted to hospitals, with 411 being treated and released from the emergency room. A staggering 2,302 had called the poison control center.
West Virginia American Water finally offered a “my bad,” after a fire hydrant reading showed levels well above a contested one part per million which is safe, according to officials. Pregnant women have been advised not to drink the water while any part of the chemical is in it.
This is what happens in a libertarian utopia, where all corporations enjoy the same ‘freedom’ from regulation that Freedom Industries possessed. Remember this the next time Rand Paul says we should deregulate. Only time will tell when West Virginians will be able to enjoy a glass of water that does not come with a side dose of dysentery and a sunburn.