Jan 10, 2014
C.A.R.E. Campaign Partners Support W.Va. Residents
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Naoma, W.Va. – January 10th 2013 –
“Our thoughts are with West Virginia residents who are without drinking water today,” stated Citizen Action for Real Enforcement (CARE) Campaign Coordinator, Johanna de Graffenreid. Yesterday more than 2,000 gallons of toxic chemicals were leaked into the Elk River, contaminating drinking water for nine counties and over 300,000 West Virginia residents. This is the second chemical spill in the past twelve months in West Virginia.
“We are seeing today how dependent we are on clean rivers for our health and security. The immediate priority is for public health officials to determine the extent of the problem and to ensure the safety of public water supplies. Then, we must take a critical look at how to better protect our vital drinking water sources,” stated the Angie Rosser, the Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, a CARE Campaign Partner.
The Elk River is the primary drinking water source for many in central West Virginia, in large part due to the hazardous impacts that mining has had on local watersheds in the nine affected counties. Rob Goodwin, a technical expert at Coal River Mountain Watch, has been investigating the spill.
“WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) has allowed the ground water and much of the surface water resources in this state to be destroyed by coal - forcing everyone to be hooked up to a huge corporation owned water system where they have no rights or control over where their water comes from or how their water source is managed and protected,” according to Goodwin.
Individuals in the affected counties are unable to use their water for anything other than flushing toilettes and putting out fires. This impacts not only every day life, but especially those reliant on care at medical facilities.
“My father, a retired coal miner, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and underwent major surgery. This water emergency has made his care more difficult. We need water to keep him cleaned and to prepare meals. Clean, accessible water is a necessity,” reported Boone County Resident, Dustin White.
The CARE Campaign is petitioning the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to intervene in the WV DEP to ensure safe drinking water, air, and communities for West Virginia Residents. On December 30th OSM stated that they will be investigating 5 of the 19 issues raised in the petition, and the campaign will be continuing it’s efforts ensuring that the WV DEP is held accountable for it’s failure to protect citizens of the state. A CARE Campaign Partner and West Virginia Resident, Mary Ann Hitt of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement :
“Our thoughts are with the more than 300,000 people in West Virginia affected by this toxic chemical spill. [The spill] occurred upstream from the largest drinking water source in West Virginia.”
As clean up continues in the coming days the CARE Campaign will be standing with WV residents for clean water, and real regulatory enforcement.
The 18 partners of the CARE Campaign include: Appalachian Catholic Worker; Appalachian Voices; Catholic Committee of Appalachia; Center for Biological Diversity; Center for Health, Environment & Justice; Christians for the Mountains; Coal River Mountain Watch; Earthjustice; Keeper of the Mountains Foundation; League of Women Voters of West Virginia; Mountain Health and Heritage Association; National Wildlife Federation; Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; Sierra Club; West Virginia Citizen Action; West Virginia Environmental Council; West Virginia Highlands Conservancy; and West Virginia Rivers Coalition.