Make Real News!

100K Challenge!

$88,592 raised so farEND DATE: October 5   
Every dollar you donate will be matched until we reach our 100K goal!
  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Previously Unreported Second Chemical Spilled into West Virginia River


    Russell Mokhiber: Privately-owned water company failed to conduct proper water tests in Elk River, leading to sickness among WV Residents -   January 23, 2014
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook




    I support the Real News because without The Real News we would have no real news at all. - WWH
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

    Transcript

    Previously Unreported Second Chemical Spilled into West Virginia RiverJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

    On January 9, a toxic chemical spill into West Virginia's Elk River from a storage facility for chemicals used to process coal cut off the water supply to more than 300,000 local residents. Since then, local residents were told that the water was safe to drink, which resulted in hundreds of people becoming ill. This week it was also revealed that another chemical was also present in the water that had not been previously reported.

    With us to discuss the recent ongoing crisis is Russell Mokhiber. He's the editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, and he's also the founder of SinglePayerAction.org. And he also lives in West Virginia.

    Thanks for joining us, Russell.

    RUSSELL MOKHIBER, EDITOR, CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER: Thank you, Jessica.

    DESVARIEUX: So, Russell, can you just bring us up to date? The chemical leak that was first reported was called MCHM, which is used to treat coal, as I mentioned. And now we're hearing about another chemical being present, PH. How is it possible that we're just hearing about this other chemical being in the water supply?

    MOKHIBER: That's what everybody here in West Virginia is asking today. We don't know how that's possible. We don't know how it's possible that Freedom Industries leaked 7,500 gallons of this, at least, into the Elk River, contaminating the water of 300,000 people.

    What we know is that it leaked on January 9, that a do not use order was put in that lasted till the 13th. Then it was gradually lifted till everybody was told it was okay to use it on the 18th, based on studies that said one part per million was safe. And when it lifted, the number of admissions into the hospital started increasing dramatically, 'cause people were drinking water they were told was safe that apparently wasn't safe. Laura Jordan, the spokeswoman for the water company, the privately held water company, told reporters that just because the water smells doesn't mean it's not safe to drink. So the people were getting the message that the water is safe based on studies of one of the many chemicals in this [incompr.] And a couple of days after [incompr.] it's safe to drink, the CDC said, uh, pregnant women shouldn't drink it; pediatricians said, uh, children shouldn't drink it. So the whole--it was a difficult situation, no doubt, but the whole handling of this has been a disgrace and a disaster for the people of the Charleston area.

    But the bottom line is that the company is responsible, Freedom Industries. The privately held water company is responsible for not taking seriously its upstream risks and going upstream and enforcing a watershed assessment plan to determine what the risks were and to make sure that they were manageable and under control. And the political apparatus in West Virginia is responsible for taking money from the owners of these facilities to mouth a deregulation dogma that led to this crisis.

    DESVARIEUX: So I'm glad that you mentioned the water companies and their responsibility in all of this, because critics are really saying that West Virginia having a privatized water system, it actually enhanced the crisis. There was more pressure to turn on the taps even though the water wasn't safe, as we're seeing now, to drink. It wasn't potable.

    So what do you make of this? Do you see privatization of water supply being at the heart of this as well?

    MOKHIBER: It's a hot topic among people who work in the drinking water utility industry. The vast majority of drinking water utilities are publicly held, are public water companies. This one is privately held. And people tell me that executives at public drinking water utilities, their job is to ensure the safety of their customers. And they spent a lot of time looking at the upstream risks and meeting with people from those nuclear and chemical facilities and walking through the plants to make sure those risks are under control.

    And a big question here is whether this water company, this privately held water company took those risks seriously. We couldn't find--we still haven't found a watershed assessment plan that this company did, and it's really unclear whether they ever visited this facility to see what the risks were at this facility, which was just a mile and a half upstream. So there is real liability against the water company.

    But more importantly is Freedom Industries. And what we found out recently: that it's owned by a gentleman named James Clifford Forrest III, who lives in a wealthy suburb of Pittsburgh and who has been donating money to politicians in West Virginia who are pushing a deregulatory line. So we have not only pollution of the Charleston area drinking water, but we have corruption of the politics by the same company.

    DESVARIEUX: And, Russell, another emerging issue is that so little is really known about the safety of the chemical MCHM. And officials actually backtracked on whether or not the water was safe to drink and so on and so forth. A recent Washington Post article noted that there are more than 80,000 chemicals in the United States cataloged by government regulators, and the health risks for most of them are unknown. What do you make of this?

    MOKHIBER: Well, we're now facing and the people of Charleston are now facing the results of that deregulation, the fact that the industry has all the information and the government is playing catch-up. So still the people know very little about how much was dumped into this river, what was dumped into this river. Just, as you say, yesterday, information was released about another chemical that was in the mix. And before that information was released about that other chemical, apparently this crude MCHM is a combination of six or seven chemicals, and in determining what the safe level was, the one part per million, the CDC only looked at one of those chemicals and not the others. So the government's way behind in terms of the information, in terms of processing the information, and in terms of protecting the public.

    So there's a lot of levels here, but most prominently is the whole question of deregulation, 'cause that's what leads to all of it, the failure to criminally prosecute the wrongdoing. It's historically in West Virginia. The failure to regulate so that these kinds of things don't happen. The failure to get on top of the chemical industry, which has the politicians in their pockets.

    So the bottom line is whether we--there's a lot of angst. It's a situation where it could go either way. The question is: can we channel the energy the people are feeling right now into a challenge to the political system in West Virginia that created this culture of deregulation?

    DESVARIEUX: Alright. Russell Mokhiber, always a pleasure having you on.

    MOKHIBER: Thank you, Jessica.

    DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Will You Put Us Over the Top?
    Phil Donahue on The Real News
    Acute Economic Inequality Underlies "Occupy Central" Protests in Hong Kong
    US-Brokered Afghan Unity Government Paves Way for Continued Military Presence
    Underestimating ISIS: An Indictment of Decades of Failed US Policy in the Middle East
    Ceasefire Agreements Do Not Address Key Issues in Ukraine
    Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe
    Palestinian Authority Has No Legitimacy to Govern in Gaza
    TRNN Debate: Can Carbon Pricing Bring Down Global Carbon Emissions? (2/2)
    Ferguson Police Chief Sparks Fresh Round of Protests
    After Eric Holder Resigns, A Look at His Record on Bank Prosecutions
    TRNN Debate: Can Carbon Pricing Bring Down Global Carbon Emissions? (1/2)
    I Refused to be Treated like an Animal - Eddie Conway on Reality Asserts Itself (8/10)
    Baltimore Youth Speak about How to Reduce Violence (1/3)
    Turkish-Syrian Border "The Great Hole" in Obama's UN Speech
    Six Years in Solitary Confinement - Eddie Conway on Reality Asserts Itself (7/10)
    US Bombs Syria without Congressional Approval
    The Frame Up - Eddie Conway on Reality Asserts Itself (6/10)
    What Role Is Turkey Playing in the War against ISIS?
    Detroit's Water Shut-offs at the Center of Bankruptcy Proceedings
    Body of War
    Thousands #FloodWallStreet to Target Institutions Profiting from Climate Change
    Re-energizing the Electrical Grid
    Do We Need a War on U.S. Military Carbon Emissions?
    World Leaders to Emit Promises of Hot Air at UN Climate Summit
    Voices from the Historic 300,000+ Strong 'People's Climate March'
    Most Members of the Black Caucus Have Supported Police Militarization
    The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?
    War, Whistleblowing and Independent Journalism Panel
    It's Time to Act on the Climate Crisis

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting