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Charleston Aquapocalypse: We Demand Remediation!

confined and unconfined aquifers feeding into groundwater sources
confined and unconfined aquifers feeding into groundwater sources
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Ok, let’s face it. West Virginia’s government has failed us. Their disregard towards regulatory laws enacted by Richard Nixon’s Clean Air and Water Acts of 1970 were not important enough for “King Coal” to adhere too. It’s been a month since 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM and 300 gallons PPH leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries into the Elk River, which left 300,000 people in the Kanawha Valley searching for clean water and answers. And with several schools having to close this week due to MCHM and PPH still being present in their water systems, it’s pretty obvious that the correct remediation procedures are not taking place.

Is the US Government doing its part in providing the appropriate steps to mitigate the pollution? At Ground Zero, one should ask if the US Department of Agriculture has taken any soil data surveys to see how permeable the surfaces at Freedom Industries are. PPH has a preference partition to soil over water. And PPH, because of its high water solubility, can leach from soil deposits to groundwater. Underground aquifers and aquitards exist deep beneath the surface. And in most cases, these aquifers feed into ground water sources. With the sporadic contamination occurrences still showing up throughout the Kanawha Valley, one has to speculate that enough PPH has leached into an aquifer feeding the Elk River.

Dual Effect Syndrome:

What we do know is that the MCHM is causing skin rashes, but some chemists think we need to look more towards the intricacies of PPH as far as eye and throat irritation is concerned. Did more of the “stripped propylene glycol phenyl ether” leaked than what officials told the public? You better believe it. PPH is known to cause eye irritation and throat irritation if inhaled. But high doses of PPH can cause decreased food consumption, decreased body weight and prostration. In fetus’ –septal heart defect became apparent in lab studies (which probably led to the pregnancy ban being issued). Skeletal variation was also acknowledged when studying the effects of PPH. But then again, Freedom Industries' “proprietary version” of PPH has us all demanding to know what else is in their mixture?

What’s next:

We should question the WV Department of Environmental Protection on whether or not they plan on using Soil Vapor Extraction technologies, Air Stripping or Air Sparging at Ground Zero. What kind of monitoring wells are being erected (if any) by the WVDEP to assist in the remediation of the spill site? West Virginia American Water should be held accountable to complete Home Decontamination-- and citizens should not have to look towards private firms to receive proper filtration at home; the activated carbon filtration being done at the WVAM intake plant is something that should be explored at home residences. A declaration should be issued in declaring the location of Freedom Industries a Superfund site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. Has the West Virginia DEP obtained enough data to receive a response from CERCLA? ---More than likely. Can the location of the chemical spill be qualified under the Defense Restoration Environmental Program?--Possibly. These are a just couple of avenues that would be available to the state if the WVDEP and rogue suppliers of Freedom Industries had the integrity to adhere to regulatory laws established by the US EPA. Now… we’re seemingly stuck, waiting for the ‘suspect approval’ from state legislation to give us some sense of reciprocity.

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