During my 42 years in the graphics business, there were accidental spills and sudden leaks, but they were quickly stopped and contained so that nothing ever went into the sewer system, or even left the building. The cost of taking precautions was far less than the cost to my conscience (and perhaps my pocketbook) would have been.
There is absolutely no excuse for harmful chemicals being released into our water supplies.
Regardless of whether the management did nothing in advance to prepare for such leaks, or they, as has been proven by the polluting spill, made inadequate provisions -- or if they "did not know" -- they are absolutely guilty of incompetence and have no business managing such a facility.
If they knew but did nothing just for the sake of their corporate pocketbook, there should be criminal charges for jailable offenses against the corporation and all its leadership. Their assets should have been frozen to prevent the usual ploy of selling them off to a shell corporation owned by their principals then bankrupting the gutted, violating entity.
If you are one of those 300,000 affected by the recent chemical spill into the Elk River, you might now be convinced that environmental pollution is not some abstract crusade by those whom chemical polluters' lobbyists disparagingly insult as "tree huggers." It is real and can happen to you. When the water supplies are polluted, misery is inevitable.
All of us should, at least symbolically, hug a clean river every day.
Cook is an author, artist and inventor who lives in Hurricane.