When a chemical gets leaked into a river and prevents 300,000 people from drinking water, using it to cook or bathe in, the best thing for a company to do is to own up to it. For members of the press, that company’s name needs to be within the first two paragraphs of the story, and the chemical name should be there as well.
Kudos to the PR department for Freedom Industries that spilled a “chemical” into the ecosystem of the capitol of West Virginia. They did a bang up job in keeping their name out of the Yahoo! article syndicated from the Associated Press until the fourth paragraph.
They were also able to keep the name of the chemical, “a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process,” out of the story until the 13th paragraph. Most people stop reading after the second paragraph of online stories.
Whether or not these were editorial choices on the part of Yahoo!, the Associated Press or the journalist, every news organization needs to stand up and deliver the important information about which companies are turning this world into a dump and what chemicals they are using to do so.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection representative the chemical is “not an especially toxic material. It's not dangerous necessarily to be around.”
However, “according to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific, the chemical is harmful if swallowed — and could be so if inhaled — and causes eye and skin irritation. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, reddened skin, itching and rashes, according to a news release from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.”
At least it doesn’t appear to cause death, at least not primarily though diarrhea could lead to dehydration and that could lead to death, especially if you do not have enough water to stay hydrated. Hopefully, those living in West Virginia are able to… Wait. Their water is contaminated.
While the people affected by the spill have freedom from clean water, Utah should consider sending in its own team of beavers to help stop the spill from going any farther.