12 Days After West Virginia Chemical Spill, Company Admits to Second Chemical
By Tina Casey
Yep, you read that right. Almost two weeks after a storage tank was discovered to be leaking 7,500 gallons of the coal-washing chemical Crude MCHM into the Elk River/water supply for nine counties in West Virginia, company officials finally disclosed yesterday that 300 gallons of another chemical, “PPH, stripped,” was also part of the brew.
The news was reported yesterday evening in the West Virginia Gazette, so let’s turn to reporter Ken Ward, Jr. for more on that.
The West Virginia Chemical Spill
The site is on the banks of the Elk River, less than two miles upriver from intakes for the private water company West Virginia American, which serves nine counties with a population of 300,000 people. By the time the leak was locked down, contaminated water had entered the service territory.
An alert went out to use the water for nothing but flushing toilets. Along with the affected residents, the water crisis shut down hundreds of businesses, schools and other institutions.
Days after the spill, residents were finally told that the system had been flushed out and the water was safe to drink, but a subsequent increase in chemical-related symptoms strongly suggests that dangerous levels of Crude MCHM—or perhaps something else—were still present.
Yet Another Chemical Revealed
According to yesterday’s Gazette report by Ward, state and federal investigators only learned about the presence of PPH yesterday, from company officials.
The full article is well worth a read, especially for the detail it provides on both Crude MCHM and PPH, which is a known skin and eye irritant.
In what almost sounds like a cloak-and-dagger scenario, Ward reports that the information was disclosed privately to state DEP official Mike Dorsey by Gary Southern, the president of Freedom Industries, in advance of yesterday’s daily situational meeting between agencies and company officials.
Preliminary information from West Virginia American and state officials indicates that PPH would have been stripped out by its water treatment process before entering the distribution system, but that assessment will have to be confirmed by additional tests.
It also raises the question of what other shoes Freedom Industries has left to drop.
“Clean Coal” and the West Virginia Chemical Spill
We noted in a previous article that the West Virginia chemical spill undermines the “clean coal” image that the coal industry has worked so assiduously to cultivate, and a comment on a repost of that article just drew our attention to another angle.
Although it’s natural to assume that the clean coal campaign is linked to electric power generation, according to our commenter Crude MCHM is used to prepare coal for another key sector, the steelmaking industry.
The steel industry has its own house to get in order in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, so that hardly lets the coal mining industry off the hook.
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but while searching the Tubes for information on “PPH, stripped,” we came across a patent application that describes a new chemical compound to be used in fracking, which contains “propylene glycol phenyl ether (PPH).”
We’ll try to nail that down in another post.
Bill Maher is sick of billionaires' obsession with Mars, more like "Mars-a-Lago," he said.
In a new animation produced by ATTN:, the popular talk show host of Real Time, discusses the perils of our planet, including how "climate change is killing us."
A group of prominent climate scientists have written a study explicitly refuting statements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on climate data. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt claimed in a written response that satellite data shows a "leveling off" of warming over the past two decades.
By David Pomerantz
The Nevada Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.
By Yosola Olorunshola
Whether it's through fashion or protest, Vivienne Westwood is not a woman afraid of making a statement.
On May 23, she rocked up to the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London with a special guest—the Grim Reaper—to issue a strong statement on the Church of England's position on fracking.
By Paul Brown
The food industry and big agricultural concerns are driving climate change and at the same time threatening to undermine efforts to feed the world's growing population, according to GRAIN, an organization that supports small farmers.
Particularly singled out for criticism are the large chemical fertilizer producers that have gained access to the United Nations talks on climate change. GRAIN accuses them of behaving like the fossil fuel companies did in the 1990s, pushing false information in the hope of delaying real action on climate change.
By Sydney Robinson
By John Rogers
Maybe it's because I first started working on clean energy while serving in the Peace Corps he founded, or maybe it's my years of working on these issues from his home state. But I can't help thinking about the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth, and connecting his stirring rhetoric to the energy challenges of our times.
Here's what our 35th president might have said about the challenges of energy transition and the opportunities in clean energy:
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said Wednesday in its 2017 annual review that the solar industry alone provides more than three million jobs worldwide, and projected that the renewable industry could employ 24 million people by 2030.