Charlotte Pritt’s Op/Ed is as timely today as it was when she first submitted it to the Charleston Gazette, who rejected it apparently for being too “controversial.”
West Virginians are being served an untested and unidentified chemical cocktail with a dose of misinformation, half-truths and lies of omission on the side. We deserve answers to our questions.
The first point of concern is the misleading use of the term MCHM as a substitute for Crude MCHM, deceptively masking the fact that it was not one pollutant, but a mixture of chemicals which were actually “spilled”. This is an important distinction because of the
negative accumulative effect that multiple simultaneous chemical exposures are known to have on human health.
The second point of concern, and even more disturbing, is the failure of the governor and the agencies he controls to admit that what is still coming out of our spigots is virtually unknown.
The public deserves to have access to what originally contaminated our water supply. Relying on Freedom Industries to tell us what was actually released into the water is comparable to asking the proverbial fox how many chickens he ate. Freedom Industries’ parceling out of what chemicals were originally leaked does not instill confidence. First they told us that the chemical was MCHM, and then they admitted that it was a number of chemicals commonly referred to as Crude MCHM that leaked into the water supply and later still they confessed that PPH was also among the contaminates. For all the public knows, those tanks could have been used to store hydrofracking fluids that seeped into the water. We may never know because the WV legislature passed an amendment last session to Senate Bill 243. Known as the Halliburton “Dirty Secrets” amendment; it basically shields hydrofracking companies from the public discovering exactly what chemicals are being transported, stored, and injected within our state’s borders.
The third point of concern is the likelihood that new and potentially dangerous chemicals are being created as the contaminated water makes its journey to our spigots. Panelist Bob Bowcock, an environmental investigator, on a recent WCHS town meeting broadcast stated that when Crude MCHM and PPH hit the purifying agents at the WVAW treatment plant, they morph into potentially thousands of other more dangerous chemicals than those which originally were leaked. He further explained that those in outlying areas whose water comes from large storage tanks may be at greater risks of toxicity because the stored water has more time to intermix and create other chemicals.
Scientists from South Alabama University are now examining what potentially harmful interactions may occur as this unidentified and untested chemical cocktail travels through the many various delivery and plumbing systems to arrive at our spigots. What happens when the leaked chemicals plus purifying agents react to the long black rubber hose, copper tubing or the PVC pipes used in homes? Some scientists have theorized that once this particular chemical cocktail leaches into certain types of plumbing it may never be flushed out completely.
Due to the unknown nature of the pollutants and the many variables experts can only guess what happens when the chemical cocktail is heated, and what ill effects the exposure to the gases and vapors might have upon us.
Anyone assuring the public that the water within the contaminated area is safe for human consumption and general use without first identifying and testing the “chemical cocktail” coming out of our spigots is willfully and knowingly lying to the people of WV.
We deserve better than contaminated water and misleading information. The lives of West Virginia children, families, citizens and communities hang in the balance. West Virginians deserve a Governor, who will serve them clean water and the truth
Mountain Party Chair Charlotte Pritt is a former WV Senator and House member from Kanawha County, WV