Stewart Acuff

Jan 21

WV Water Poisoning — more devastation by unfettered capitalism

My close friend John Christensen, a great environmental leader and a great trade unionist, has been at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston demanding answers from the company that poisoned the tap water of about 300,000 people in West Virginia, Freedom Industries. John has long worked to hold Big Coal accountable for all the costs they exact from the people and the environment of West Virginia.

The water poisoning, which industry sources say is not toxic —but you’ll get sick if it gets in your system– is just another example of what happens when profit trumps the lives of our people and our land. And it is yet another example of what happens when capitalism goes unchecked. It is destructive, even fatal.

This recent contamination of the water table and slow seepage into a drinking water supplying river joins the very common practice of blowing the tops off mountains, black lung disease, continuous water poisoning in the water table, rivers, streams, creeks, and the needless deaths of coal miners in mine explosions. These are the horrifying costs of lax regulations and governmental deference to Big Coal.

Nobody knows when this poisoning of the water table and water supply will be cleaned up, because nobody knows how to clean a water table.

Heads Up, brothers and sisters, the very same kind of governmental deference is happening in natural gas fracking. Disclaimer — My Goddaughter, Liz Arnold, is organizing against natural gas fracking in Pennsylvania. Just as no one knows how to clean up a water table, nobody knows how to decontaminate a water aquifer, one of the costs of fracking.

As unfettered capitalism euphemistically called “market forces” drive corporations to mine energy substitutes that can be owned instead of renewable and green energy options like wind and solar, our state and federal governments stand by while our people, water, and land are poisoned.

We have often said in this space that unfettered and deregulated capitalism is always ultimately destructive. People in West Virginia are re-learning that awful truth all over again.

The sad reality is that we now know with certainty that carbon based fuels are killing our planet. We know how to replace those fuels safely. And we are not doing so. In a very real way we are allowing ourselves and our environment to be slowly dying slaves to shockingly evil greed.

Photo: Members of the West Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package draw water samples from across the Kanawha Valley to determine levels of contamination remaining in local water supply. (Photo courtesy West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Photo source: The National Guard on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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