For the past few days, West Virginia American Water has been hastily lifting the water ban throughout the nine counties affected by Freedom Industries’ ‘freeing’ of a chemical agent into the Elk River. The chemical, Methylcyclohexane Methanol, or MCHM, is used to “wash” coal.
However, when released into an area’s water supply it causes diarrhea, uncontrollable vomiting, rashes, burning throat, and other symptoms. It also causes the water to look something like this:
In the first thirty-six hours of the water ban being lifted, over 100 people have visited the emergency room. Forgive us if these sound familiar, but those symptoms include diarrhea, uncontrollable vomiting, rashes, burning throat, and other effects associated with MCHM contact. One resident posted a picture of his arm:
Even though the ban has been largely lifted, residents are still reporting many of the effects of the chemical, including the licorice smell, gelling of water that is allowed to sit, and extreme discoloration–so much so that American Water has offered up a helpful little guide to residents who are concerned that their water looks like KY Jelly or a urinal at a hockey game:
As some residents pointed out, in a photograph the company posted of the employees “hard at work” at 3 a.m. the employees certainly were not drinking tap water:
Freedom Industries feigns innocence, but the felon-run, Koch-affiliated company has had previous issues tied to their negligence. At a second site, they have been cited with some severe violations regarding–you guessed it–containment and storage.
The contaminant has spread to the Ohio River, forcing numerous cities to cease using its water.
While the company’s president has proven to be rather unconcerned, and the CEO’s girlfriend rambled on Facebook about how “no thing and no one” has been harmed, the reality is that people have been harmed. Businesses that have been forced to close during the contamination have been harmed. The entire region has been harmed–and like others who care about the victims of Freedom Industries’ negligence, we say “To Hell with you!”