Letters: Jan. 17, 2013, water crisis, big coal, closed captioning
Legislature, Drink Up and Get Back to Work
The legislators suspending their session in order to escape the fear of poison pollution of the waterways is ridiculous. This sort of chemical and more has been contaminating the air and waters of West Virginia for decades and the governor's DEP keeps responding to citizen complaints with a shrug and "oh well." If the governor and legislators think this coal washing poison is good enough for residents of the southern coalfields, they should drink up and get back to work.
The legislative session should continue and all should enjoy the benefits of this rare gift of industrial capitalism/chemical spill - fears, anxieties, respiratory damage and water consumption, endangering yours and your children's lives. It may be real or merely "an aesthetic issue of taste and odor," as Jeff McIntyre, president of the West Virginia American Water Company, views the situation.
"We don't know that the water is not safe, but I can't say it is safe," McIntyre said earlier. "The only appropriate use for this water is toilet flushing."
If a Federal Emergency declaration is warranted by this situation then welcome legislators, to the life of poisoned southern West Virginia coalfields where communities live with this exact same scenario. Communities polluted by coal sludge leaks, deep well/groundwater contamination and blasting dust pollution. Your Department of Environmental industrial Protection, tells us: "Oh, we have no evidence that these chemicals are from those mining/chemical operations and even if they are, there is no evidence that they cause any health problems..." Atrocious!
Legislators, if you evacuated Charleston to save yourselves, on the basis of the precautionary principle - just common sense and fear but absolutely zero health studies, then by God you ought to put an end to mountaintop removal mining (MTR) because there are more than 20 peer reviewed health studies showing that people living near that activity suffer from disease and die at higher rates than comparable communities in Appalachia that do not live near MTR.
Coal is still at the root of the problem
Do "they" really expect us to pay for this? My eyes were burning after I took a shower in the "safe" water that we are now enjoying here in Charleston and surrounding unfortunates. This morning I washed my still burning eyes with bottled water.
We are in real trouble. I am not going to shower in this water as long as I can smell it and for sure will not drink this stuff. We can't or at least shouldn't bath in or drink the water now coming into our homes and who wants to wash their clothes in that stinky stuff.
Should we be charged for water that is almost useless? We now have two water bills - one for piped in water and one for bottled water.
Charleston has entered into third world status. Other parts of southern West Virginia have been in the third world for a long time, with water problems caused by the coal industry's underground mining and mountains obliterated with strip mining and its grotesque juiced up version called mountain top removal, with left over dirt and rocks dumped into the valleys.
Friends and I have done water testing throughout southern West Virginia. We have found readings of 400 to over 1500 on a conductivity scale where anything over 300 is not good for aquatic life.
The Charleston Gazette reported this morning that Sen. Joe Manchin and Representatives Capito and Rahall, took pains to distance the chemical that spilled, which is used to process coal, from the state's coal industry. During a televised press conference, Gov. Tomblin fell all over himself trying to disassociate the coal industry from the chemical spill. All these politicians grovel before big coal.
I am mad as hell. After the shower last night that made my eyes burn, I cursed big coal with words that would catch this paper on fire. Big coal destroyed the sight in my father's left eye and they are destroying the mountains all around our home place at Emmons on Big Coal River and now they are destroying my drinking water.
Deaf need captioning for press conferences
The Governor's office held a news conference on Jan. 11, which was probably informative for those who can hear. I was dismayed that no captions were available, and there was no sign language interpreter for the deaf who communicate only in signs and gestures.
Captioning in real time is possible. I am not sure how the system works, but obviously it is used for sports, presidential addresses, some live television dramas. I know that the Office of the Governor is deeply concerned about the present water crisis. I encourage his office to provide communicative assistance to the large number of people in West Virginia who are as severely deaf as I am.
Lawton W. Posey