On Jan 9, 2014 a chemical storage tank in Charleston, West Virginia Leaked about 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, a toxic chemical, directly into the Elk River. Around 300,000 people were without water due to the contamination at the local water treatment plant. The story continues to unfold, but one thing is for sure, it’s accidents like these that give us lessons on prevention. Here are some of the most relevant media articles and commentary.
EDF Blog: A Full Month after West Virginia spill, many questions linger … along with the chemical’s distinctive odor
EDF BLOG: West Virginia officials trust shaky science in rush to restore water service: One-part-per-million “safe” threshold has questionable basis
NY Times OpEd by Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-eraso “the Environmental Protection Agency should step in and use its power under the Clean Air Act’s general duty clause to compel chemical facilities to take steps to make their operations inherently safer.”
NPR: How Industrial Chemical Regulation Failed West Virgina “[The Obama administration] certainly ha[s] broad rule-making authority at EPA, and the Environmental Protection Agency can make rules about all sorts of things about this; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can make rules about these things.”
In These Times: Mistakes of West, Texas Repeated in West Virginia “…advocates…cited a single cause of why such efforts die on the vine: media amnesia. Once a disaster is over, reporters turn their attention away from such unsexy topics as chemical plant safety, and industries lobby for regulatory changes to be killed in the dark.”