Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia’

Freedom from regulation: Lax government oversight and possible private-sector negligence contribute to West Virginia water woes

January 15, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 15, 2014

Slowly, residents of West Virginia are having their potable water restored.

As previously noted, about 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties were ordered not to use their water for anything but flushing toilets (and fighting fires) on Thursday evening.

There have been no documented deaths after about 7,500 gallons of methylcyclohexene methanol or 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, a chemical used to clean coal, contaminated the public water supply. And by Tuesday, more than 35,000 customers had been given the go-ahead to start flushing the poison from their pipes by running the faucets.

The flushing process apparently involves running taps for 20 minutes and replacing water filters. West Virginia American Water announced that its customers would be credited for 1,000 gallons, which it estimated would be enough to cleanse the pipes of a typical family home. (The average residential customer uses 3,000 gallons a month, the company said.)

Still, the bulk of the affected customers will have to continue to rely on bottled water for most uses (again, toilet flushing and firefighting excepted). And it seems that many schools and businesses in the contaminated area will remain closed Wednesday. A number of these have been shuttered since Friday.

I wrote this last week:

[A]ll too often, a deep dig into these incidents reveals safety inspection and permitting processes that are lax or underfunded. Frequently, there’s a pattern of penalties that either are not enforced or are too minuscule to dissuade dangerous conditions.

This wasn’t really a prediction, simply an observation based on an oft-repeated sequence. True to form, this very familiar blueprint seems to apply to the West Virginia spill.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: