For three days, with more ahead, approximately 300,000 West Virginians have experienced a little bit of the human rights violation most people in developing countries do throughout their lives: lack of access to clean water. A less than two-week old company, enshrouded in secrets and getting death threats, leaked poison from coal mining into the state's water supply Thursday.
As authorities worked Sunday to flush pipes that supply water to nine counties, in one of which the state's capital Charleston is located, officials said it will be days before the water is adequately tested to ensure it is safe to drink and use for bathing and washing.
"I would think we're talking days, West Virginia American Water Company president Jeff McIntyre told reporters Saturday afternoon.
When residents will receive the OK to drink their water and bathe in it at home depends on location and customer demand on the state's largest water utility.
Until that OK is given, Earl Ray Tomblin advises residents not to use tap water for drinking, bathing, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes. Not even boiling the water will make it safe, authorities said.
Mike Dorsey, chief of emergency response for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, estimates 7,500 gallons the chemical foaming agent 4-methylcyclohexane methanol used for coal production was leaked into the water supply.
The order won't be lifted until tests confirm levels lower than one part per million of the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. That is the level set by federal environmental and health standards for safe human consumption, but independent toxicologists argue no amount of the poison is a "safe amount."
Not only state residents most impacted, but also people nationally and even internationally are expressing outrage about this latest assault on the environment and humans by a chemical company associated with non-sustainable energy, in this case, coal.
Kathy Stover-Kennedy, Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell's girlfriend, said Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.
Freedom's secrets not the type of freedom democracy looks like
Freedom Industries, the secretive company whose chemical spill is responsible for contaminating much of the Kanawha Valley's water impacting 16 percent of the state's residents, has existed less than two weeks in its present form, according to David Gutman for the Charleston Gazette.
The company website says the Charleston branch "can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively."
State and federal agencies continue to investigate how Freedom Industries' chemical, used to process coal, spilled out of a containment tank Thursday morning into the Elk River about a mile upstream from a water treatment facility.
Secrets about the company and its key operators abound.
Freedom Industries President Gary Southern at Friday's 10-mintes press conference, "gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions," Gutman reported.
The background of Freedom Industries' executive, Farrell, is scant.
The company's two founders Southern and Carl L. Kennedy II, began the company called Freedom Industries in 1992.
Kennedy is listed as "incorporator." A woman who answered Freedom Industries's phone, however, said he left the company "years ago." In 2005, federal prosecutors charged him with failure to pay over $200,000 in income taxes, according to reports at the time and in 1987, he pleaded guilty to selling 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine, according to reports.
Kennedy and Farrell became friends and in 2002, opened a sports bar in Montgomery, The Bank Bar and Grill. They bought two buildings at the corner of Virginia and Capitol streets in downtown Charleston.
Farell, according to the secretary of state, is "organizer" of Etowah River Terminal, a chemical storage facility founded in 2001. It failed to file an annual report in 2005 and had its business license revoked, but re-formed in 2011.
Meanwhile, the tainted water has all but shut down Charleston, the state capital. Schools, restaurants and businesses there were ordered to close late Thursday.
Americans feeling Third World conditions
Increasingly, chemical companies in the United States are causing crises that Americans compare to those experienced in the Third World.
"Downtown Charleston remained dark and shuttered Saturday," reported the LA Times.
Federal emergency workers are trucking water from other states, such as Maryland, to southern West Virginia.
At least 73 people reported skin irritation, nausea and/or vomiting to emergency departments. Some were admitted to hospitals, according to Karen Bowling of the W.V. Department of Health and Human Resources.
Thousands of people stood in lines in the rain Saturday morning to collect bottled water or fill containers with drinking water supplied by emergency management agencies.
The Army National Guard had delivered 1.4 million liters of water by Saturday, Guard commanders said, with another 1.6 million liters on the way. That's more than three billion people globally get for access to clean water, a human right.
Many of those three billion carry pails from their homes, walk miles to a clean water supply, fill their pails, and then carry those heavy pales back home in attempt to ensure their families can survive.
International calls for the rights to water and sanitation of the three billion seldom make news reports.
Lack of access to clean water is the primary cause of death in developing and least developing nations, as seen in the UN YouTube video (above).
In states controlled by fossil fuel industries such as West Virginia and Louisiana, residents joke that they already are third world states.
Poisoned water has been a primary cause of death along the Gulf of Mexico since the BP oil crime. (Vampire of Macondo) and is wreaking havoc across the nation, especially in California, since the Fukushima catastrophe began.
Sources: L.A. Times, Charleston Gazette, United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Poisoning Americans through water supplies is a focus of Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don’t want you to know, Deborah Dupre’s most recent book. Its 450 pages are packed with corporate media censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect crime in the Gulf of Mexico continuing its catastrophic human and environmental devastation. Watch the book video trailer here.