For Immediate Release:
January 10, 2014
Sierra Club Statement on West Virginia Coal Chemical Spill
Charleston, WV – Last night, a chemical spill on the Elk River, just 2 miles above the Elk River water treatment plant near Charleston, contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 residents in central and southern West Virginia. The spill, which occurred at a Freedom Industries storage facility, involved a 48,000 gallon tank of a chemical used to treat coal before it’s sent off to be burned at coal-fired power plants. The chemical, called 4-methylcyclohexene methanol, may seriously impact the health and safety of local residents with symptoms including vomiting, skin blistering and burns in the throat. Residents in nine counties have been advised not to use the water for any purpose other than flushing.
In response to the Freedom Industries chemical spill, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign Director, and West Virginia resident, Mary Anne Hitt issued the following statement:
Our thoughts are with the more than 300,000 people in eastern West Virginia affected by this toxic chemical spill, upstream from the largest drinking water source in West Virginia.
Coal mining communities are faced with the dangers of water pollution from coal mining and pollution every day. This spill pulls the curtain back on the coal industry's widespread and risky use of dangerous chemicals, and is an important reminder that coal-related pollution poses a serious danger to nearby communities. Americans, and the people of West Virginia, deserve greater accountability and transparency about coal industry practices.