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Ho Hum: Another Chemical Spill in West Virginia

In January, 10,000 gallons of a chemical called Crude MCHM leaked from the bottom of a pre- World War II Eastman Chemical storage tank located on the bank of the Elk River, contaminating a water treatment plant in Charleston.

I am no scientist, and in fact stopped at 10th grade biology given my lack of acumen.  Until recently, I would have passed by this article as though it was written in a foreign language.  For some reason my senses had been completely dulled to anything environmental.  Somehow the shrill hysterics and seemingly exaggerated efforts of the environmentalists have been sufficiently off-putting to drive me to that state.  I guess I just had become complacent, figuring that these problems would somehow just work out.  That has all has changed for me since being exposed to the writings of Wendell Berry, who has taught me through his works that a society that mistreats nature will ultimately find ruin.  So, when I came across the news last week that there are continuing health concerns in West Virginia related to that January spill, the news captured my attention.

Questions came to my mind.  What is this chemical used for?  Apparently it is used to clean coal so that it can be used optimally.  The fact that it is also used in air fresheners seemed highly ironic to me.  Why, I wondered, was the storage tank sitting on the bank of a river?  And why hadn’t the company been forced to replace the aged storage tank with a more modern facility?

I’m no environmental expert, but these sorts of events cannot just pass without regular people like you and me becoming alarmed and insisting upon changes.  If we just continue to turn away, figuring “it’s only West Virginia and it has no impact upon us,” we will all pay a massive price.  I’m new to this perspective, but it feels right.  I’m not really sure what I’m going to do differently, but I know that I’m more aware now and that will definitely lead to some actions and modified behaviors.

I know that I promised to go with one blog per week, but this week I'm publishing a second one on you. Have a great weekend.


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