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I now see why the Republicans passed the bill to gut Superfund. It’s clearly unnecessary, what with a company actually named Freedom Industries taking care of the good people of West Virginia.

Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the cause and extent of the incident remained unclear.

The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. About 100,000 water customers, or 300,000 people total, were affected, state officials said they reported in requesting the federal declaration.

Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customer of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.

The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and overran a containment area. Officials from Freedom, a manufacturer of chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries, hadn’t commented since the spill, but a woman who answered the phone at the company said it would issue a statement later Friday.

Now that’s some clean coal! Freedom indeed!!!

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  • Malaclypse

    Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.

    Holy shit that water must be bad. How the hell are 300,000 people supposed to bathe with bottled water?

    • They’ll use tomato juice. The skunks will have a sad.

      • ChrisTS

        In my experience with skunk-sprayed dogs and cats, one still needs water to rinse off the tomato juice.

        • You have a perfectly good tongue, don’t you?

          • ChrisTS


    • Drew

      In my part of Jersey, we have well water, which is yellowish and smells like ass. I treat the water so it doesn’t smell when we bathe and use the restroom, but we drink from a water cooler and cook with bottled water. The water is technically potable, but it’s gross.

      So I sympathize to a degree but I can’t imagine not being able to bathe or wash clothes with my water.

  • SV

    Mmm, freedom! Tastes like licorice!

    • njorl

      I love the smell of foaming agent in the morning. It smells like – freedom.

    • Regular Guy

      This makes those who keep a minimum supply of food and drinking water (think Sparkletts), cash, and other supplies on hand look pretty smart right about now.

      • Drosselmeyer

        Sadly, they kept those supplies in West Virginia. Not as smart as they look.

      • Actually, Regular guy, it doesn’t really. A minimum supply of drinking water, for example, won’t tide you over a 9 county breakdown in potable, useable, water for every household function. People who are hoarding or worried about the total breakdown on government and ordinary supply chains would be better off–and their communities would be better off–if they put some of that wasted hysterical energy into combating the Republican party and its ruthless predilection for favoring destructive corporate practices over local needs.

        • Regular Guy

          There is a certain responsibility for one’s self, and it doesn’t mean that you’re paranoid. What’s really weird is your ability to blame the Republican party on this issue.
          How’s that work?

          • sharculese

            Says the dude who loudly announces he’s the victim of a society that doesn’t understand him at least once a week.

          • The Tragically Flip

            You’re totally right, he should have blamed the Conservative Movement, Movement Conservativism and conservativism, in that order. The Republicans are just one wholly owned subsidary of the giant Dark Age Restoration machine that is conservativism.

        • DrS

          It’s truly one of the most hysterical things about that mindset.

          There’s an amazing number of people out there that think that they will not only survive a disaster, but that they will be able to revert to a prior, pastoral life. That this will just let them hunt, or something.

          • ChrisTS

            Our crackpot neighbor (ok, one of our crackpot neighbors) was marveling at how ‘lucky’ we are to have a resident herd of deer and an invading colony of Canada geese. He said, “If something happens, we can hunt over here, right?” My husband just looked at him.

            • No. If “something happens” you all will be vigorously defending your property and any food sources on it from poachers.

              I don’t care if people who can afford it keep extra supplies on hand. I always keep a few gallons of water around because water main breaks are a feature of life in this town. But I don’t tell myself that these few gallons of water will do anything except allow me to wash shampoo out of my eyes.

              But as DrS mentions, Stuff =/= Survival. People who had already extra water in WVa. are a bit better off than those who had to get it in the general scramble, but that’s about it.

              • ChrisTS

                Yup. As my husband said to me later, “Hell, he’d be the first one I would want to shoot.”

      • sharculese

        Nope, survivalist wackjobs still look like wackjobs. Sorry Jenny.

        • Anonymous

          In this case, really, really stupid wackjobs.

  • Linnaeus

    Would be interesting to see the company’s documentation (if there is any) of its environmental management practices. One of the things they are almost certainly required to do is regular inspections of their own facilities to see if there are any problems, such as leaking containers. They’d have to do that at least monthly.

    • bbleh

      Monthly? Are you kidding? When you have a chemical in this volume and with this destructive capacity stored near a water supply? (I suppose we’ll start hearing soon how we should be thankful to Freedom Industries that they weren’t storing cyanide or ricin or something.)

      They should have had automatic 24-hour monitoring, both for leaks into the secondary containment (which exists, according to the article) and for sudden changes in the level in the primary containment. They should have known in a matter of MINUTES that something was wrong.

      And instead, they STILL don’t know the extent of it? Don’t they even know how much they had, and how much they have? Can’t they subtract?

      • Linnaeus

        Monthly? Are you kidding?

        No, I wasn’t kidding. The facilities that I’m familiar with inspect on that schedule. Then again, they don’t store chemicals like this in this quantity, so it makes perfect sense that Freedom would be required to have a more rigorous monitoring regimen. I just wasn’t sure what that was exactly.

        • bbleh

          Oh, I’m not questioning your knowledge — you may be completely correct, even given the larger quantity involved here. I’m just a little outraged. Amazed no — not after what’s left of West, Texas — but outraged.

          And according to the NYT, they STILL — more than 24 hours after the leak was discovered, and FSM knows how long after it started — don’t even know how much is out there. It appears that their accounting systems are no better than their storage systems.

          I guess this is how you keep earnings up. Free enterprise — what a blessing!

        • Anonymous

          Freedom …… from safety regulations.

      • Linnaeus

        To add, the larger point I was trying to make – albeit perhaps in a clumsy fashion – is that the various factors that their environmental management has to deal with means that there’s a significant overlap in what they do for spill control, what they do for stormwater runoff, etc. There should be documentation of all of this and it would be interesting to see if there were indications of any problems long before the spill actually happened. Sometimes these spills aren’t predictable, but in other cases, there’s a potential problem that just sits there until it becomes a problem. The documentation, or lack of it, might do a lot to tell us which was the case.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Im guessing the shredders are already running hot with Freedom

      • I really wish we had criminal liability for this shit–frog marching the owners into prison until their underlings can execute their jobs would resolve a lot of this stuff. No more limited liability.

    • drkrick

      If it comes out, it will probably of similar quality as the BP Gulf remediation plans that were reused Alaska documentation that still referred to polar bears and seals instead of anything relevant. All duly approved by relevant authorities, of course.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Are you claiming that the post-Explorer Gulf populations of polar bears and seals have not rebounded to their previous levels?

        • A negative amount of polar bears is a sad sight.

    • Anonymous

      Linnaeus: Would be interesting to see the company’s documentation (if there is any) of its environmental management practices.

      It’ll be interesting to see whether Freedom, when asked that question, responds with “Documentation?” or “Environmental Management Practices?”


  • peggy

    Do not bathe or wash clothes. The only safe use is flushing a toilet. People are expected to get by on the quart or gallon bottles of clean water they can pick up at a community agency. Tough luck if they’ve got children or the elderly or need to bathe.

    Off to see what John Cole has to say at Balloon Juice.

    • David Hunt

      Cole usually doesn’t comment until 3-4 in the afternoon. I presume that until then, he’s generally preoccupied with whatever process keeps food on the table. The morning and early afternoon is usually done by people from other areas of the country (he’s got some really good people there). However, I am also very interested in reading his thoughts on the matter when he does post.

      • The Dude

        I want to be John Cole. I want to have a web page with nothing more than pictures of my cat. And have hundreds of sycophants who I’ve never met send me well wishes. Good way to make a living.

        • Malaclypse

          Good way to make a living.

          All you need is to have served in the military long enough to draw a pension. Surely you’ve done that.

          • Isn’t he a teacher of some sort?

            • Linnaeus

              Yes, he’s an instructor at West Virginia University.

        • Lee Rudolph

          I’m fairly sure that you could very easily have a web page with nothing more than pictures of your pancakes, and have hundreds of psychos who you’ve never met send you well wishes. The making a living part—well, somehow you’re managing now (SSDI? shaking down middle-schoolers for lunch money?).

        • Come to think of it, I’ve never seen bspencer and John Cole in the same place together…

          • Christie Chris

            You have? Eerie…

            • N__B


          • Barry Freed

            Pics or it did not happen.

          • I love stepping on my own jokes.

        • Barry Freed

          You need a new nym. The Dude was not an asshole.

  • Malaclypse

    How the fuck will hospitals function?

    • For now – by cutting some services.

      Make no mistake. When the order is essentially “Do not touch this water!” the water is really, really bad.

      • SV

        Worse than that! “Do not let this water touch your laundry!” I’d even be careful not to flush with the lid up, or to lift it up within ten minutes after a flush – aerosols floating around onto toothbrushes! (I mean, bad enough with what’s normally in loo water getting on the brush, but this sounds really really bad.)

        • Tristan

          You probably shouldn’t even use a toilet. If you can’t wash your clothes in it, odds are one accidental ‘dipping incident’ and you’d have to write off your penis.

          • You don’t have to write off your penis all at once. You can depreciate it.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Should have expensed it upon acquisition.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                I was told the platinum top of the line models price out over the limit for expensing

                • GoDeep

                  Platinum tipped penis? I’d like to see that one.

                • Lee Rudolph

                  For those, lease with option to buy is the way to go.

                • DrS

                  Platinum tipped penis? I’d like to see that one.

                  But does it have the King Missle detachable option?

            • Malaclypse

              Straight-line, or double-declining balance?

              • Depends on the resale value, doesn’t it?

                • Is there much of a market for pre-owned pensises?

                • Malaclypse

                  Only if they are detachable.

                • DrS

                  Only if they are detachable.

                  I should always remember to scroll down.

          • SV

            And no #2s – gotta be careful of that splashback!

  • There will be unwashed masses desperately scrambling for clean water. A scene from The Parable of the Sower or a peek into Libertarian Paradise?

    • Derelict

      I’ll go Libertarian Paradise. This will be especially true if the company is shielded from all consequences since, as we know, requiring responsibility is a job killer. Better to kill people than jobs!

      In all seriousness, I fully expect that the company will be allowed to escape most of the responsibility/consequences for this. We now have a long-established custom in the United States of privatizing all profits while socializing the costs.

      • Malaclypse

        It won’t really be Libertarian paradise until Morrisey gets fired for saying this:

        State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warned residents about price gouging on water, ice and other items, calling it “just plain wrong” to inflate prices and encouraging those who’ve seen such practices to report them to his office’s consumer protection division.

        I mean, why are looters and moochers being treated like they should have the same access to water as Makers?

      • Especially if the company is able to brush it off as no harm, no foul. If residents start coming down with exotic cancers it will be an unfortunate coincidence. If every kid born in WVA from next month until next century has severe birth defects it will be blamed on poor choices by the mothers. If people start flopping over right this second clearly they drank the water after the warning went out…

        But just to be sure they should call in Rand Paul’s hair piece to give the situation a looksee and declare that government intervention is unnecessary because if too many accidents happen, people will just decide not to live in WVa.

        • Lee Rudolph

          Hey, deciding to die there is a viable choice too!

          • And no one is forcing them to use tap water.

        • I was thinking about environmental pollution when I was reading the “poor white trash want to stay that way” arguments of Nick Kristoff (gag) Harvard ’82 and his bizarro world meaner twin Kevin Williamson which turn on the absurd notion that lots of people might have disabilities and birth defects and learning disabilities when the entire landscape on which they have been raised has been poisoned by unfettered capitalistic industrial and mining practices.

          • If you’re poor it is your fault for not working harder. If you’re sick it must have been a bad choice you made. If the illness can’t be linked to a choice, you’d better be able to afford care, otherwise see 1.

            And if by some chance your circumstances can’t be blamed on the person who is poor/sick (e.g. bunches of children with cancer in the same town), they go all Gallic and shout “C’est la vie!”

            But an attempt to trace Bad Thing Happening to Person A to Bad Acts by Person B is Wrongthink.

            • Unless the bad act is “welfare dependency” and you can trace it to –wait for it–wait for it….Obama!

              Leaps from stage,twirls mustache, bows to audience.

              • Ooof, what a silly mistake I made. Here.

                But an attempt to trace BadApparently Not Very Nice But Perhaps for the Best Thing Happening to Person Slovenly Slob A to Bad Selfless Patriotic Job Creating Acts by Person Saintly Job Creator B is Wrongthink.

                Your delightful stage directions will still work, no?

                • Ahuitzotl

                  I’m sure you’re right, but that got so rococo I felt the need for a powerpoint presentation

            • I’m quoting a guy who something of an ass, but…

              “The rich stay healthy / the sick stay poor.”

      • David Hunt

        In all seriousness, I fully expect that the company will be allowed to escape most of the responsibility/consequences for this.

        Like the financial shenanigans that have been going on for years now, this type of shit isn’t going to stop until high-level executives in the company go to prison. Although in this case, I might settle for the top executives and the board of directors being thrown in the relevant portion of the Elk River and forced to stay in it for six hours. If they got too cold, they could come out for brief coffee breaks, said coffee being made right on the spot with river water…

        • Steve LaBonne

          Only heads on pikes will do.

      • DrDick

        It is a fine old tradition. Just ask Peabody Coal.

    • agorabum

      This spill is actually impossible, because every company knows the free market would punish them for destroying an entire water supply, therefore they will self regulate to make sure such a thing does not happen to ensure their own survival and profitability. So stop worrying everyone! This spill is a logical impossibility and therefore did not happen.

      • Free Market

        Finally! Someone understands me!

      • Malaclypse

        While your logic is impeccable, you have drawn the wrong conclusion. Government safety regulations, by usurping the flawless judgement of the market, caused the spill. The solution is deregulation.

  • raging red

    The reason they’re telling people not do to ANYTHING with it, including washing clothes, isn’t necessarily because it’s so harmful, it’s because the water company seems to know literally nothing about this chemical which is stored and distributed in a facility just upstream so they’re being overly cautious.

    • EH

      Good thing they’re storing it right next to a river, then.

      • raging red

        The major problem, and there are many obviously, is that the company didn’t notify anyone about the spill. The water company didn’t know until they smelled it in their system. If the company had told them they could have shut off the water intake and avoided the contamination.

        I live in Charleston. I can see the Elk River right now from my office window.

        • Ahuitzotl

          take pictures. You may not have much of a view, fairly soon.

    • Katya

      Somehow that would not make me feel all that much better if I was a WVA resident.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      they won’t tell what they use because of ‘trade secrets’, allegedly. as if this stuff is coca-cola…

    • njorl

      I found the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the chemical:

      CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available.
      DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available.

      • njorl
        • Lee Rudolph

          And it gets, if anything, even … better.

          Section 4: First Aid Measures

          Eye Contact: No known effect on eye contact, rinse with water for a few minutes.

          Skin Contact:
          After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. Gently and thoroughly wash the contaminated skin with running water and non-abrasive soap. Be particularly careful to clean folds, crevices, creases and groin. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. If irritation persists, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reusing.

          Serious Skin Contact:
          Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek medical attention.

          Inhalation: Allow the victim to rest in a well ventilated area. Seek immediate medical attention.

          Serious Inhalation:
          Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek medical attention.

          Do not induce vomiting. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek immediate medical attention.

          Serious Ingestion: Not available.

      • Guess the good people of WVa will help us find out.

        I am sure they’re happy to serve as involuntary volunteers in this experiment.

        • raging red

          We have a few test cases in my office–someone who drank a whole glass of contaminated water yesterday, someone who washed his hands, and someone whose daughter showered in it. Fingers crossed!

          • ChrisTS

            Jeezus. I hope they will all be ok.

            • Yes. Did they seek medical attention? Is there anyone you know of who is blogging about this?

              • raging red

                So far, everyone is fine. Nobody who I know has felt any effects or sought medical attention. I think the chemical is diluted enough that it’s not causing any acute harm. The water smells like licorice. My bathroom smells strongly of licorice just from the water in the toilet. I’m actually not terribly worried about any harm at this point, though of course I’m not going to use the water. I’ll be heading to my boyfriend’s parents’ house this evening and probably spending the weekend there. They live in one of the affected counties but get their water from a PSD, not the water company. My main concern is making sure my cat has enough clean water while we’re gone for the weekend.

                • Good luck to you all.

                  My approach to cat watering is to put out enough for the period I expect to be gone and then at least 50% more in a separate bowl (or bowls).

                  I’ve never had a cat who didn’t like to knock over the water dish.

        • njorl

          There’s really no excuse for not having mutagenic effects data on a chemical which is used in large quantities near people. The other three require human testing, so a reluctance to intentionally expose people is sensible, but you can get mutagenicity data from testing on microorganisms.

      • njorl

        Whoops, that’s not the right chemical, that was Methylcyclohexane, not 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol. I can’t seem to find it in my usual sources.

        • Sockie the Sock Puppet

          This (warning: PDF) is what I found via WVa PUblic Broadcasting:

          4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol

          • Malaclypse

            “Prevent runoff from entering rains, sewers, or streams.”

            Well fuck.

            • Yeah. I am currently treasuring my inability to decipher the bit about impact on fish.

              • MattT

                To ruin that for you, they way I would interpret that is the amount listed in mg/ml will kill 50% of the fish of the listed species when they are exposed for the time listed (48 or 96 hours).

                Most of the MSDS was pretty uninformative though. A large fraction of it was just info for methanol, which is the most tested component but only 1% of the mixture. The rest was basically the generic stuff you see for any organic chemical – this is probably bad, so be careful, but we haven’t figured out exactly how bad. Which works fine when you are order 10 ml of something to run a lab experiment, but is maybe not so great for an enormous tank of chemicals stored next to a river.

              • Philip

                I asked some chemist friends, and their conclusion based on the MSDS was that it’s not a good chemical to ingest, but as these things go it’s not awful. For example, the HMIS rating is only a 2.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Well, in that case, scratch the quotation above about first aid, and replace it with:

            4 FIRST-AID MEASURES

            Inhalation: Move to fresh air. Treat symptomatically. Get medical attention if symptoms persist.

            Eyes: Immediately flush with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes, If easy to do, remove contact lenses. Get medical attention. In case of irritation from airborne exposure, move to fresh air. Get medical attention if symptoms persist.

            Skin: Immediately flush with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing and shoes. Get medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reuse. Destroy or thoroughly clean contaminated shoes.

            Ingestion: Call a physician or poison control center immediately. Only induce vomiting at the instruction of medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconsious person.

            (My added bold emphases.)

            Fifteen minutes worth of flushing with bottled water is going to be a fuck of a lot of bottled water. Fuck.

            • That’s for direct exposure to the chemical.

              • Lee Rudolph

                True, true. With things as they actually are, one might even say that the contamination is delivered in its own first aid module!

                • ChrisTS

                  Yeah, yeah: that’s the ticket.

                • Yes, people can just hop in the shower and … oh fuck.

                  I had some of the same thoughts when I first read that document and so on the one hand I thought, maybe indirect/diluted exposure will make a difference (for people) but based on what other people have said, no one really knows how this stuff behaves in the wild.

                  Right now, I can’t imagine how frustrated people must be. Tap water is something we take for granted. Add to that not knowing how long this will last, what impact it will have and the money people are losing.

                  I’d pay to see some gibbertarian explain that they should be grateful Freedom brought jobs to the area and shut up about their stupid water.

  • Wild West

    Clearly, it’s all the governor’s fault for the lax atmosphere and in general, the lack of heavy regulation of this industry. Did they have insurance? Will they be able to pay for the damage? 300,000 people are affected. Goddam politics.

    This is what happens when you have a Democratic governor that plays ball with big dangerous corporations.

    • agorabum

      Or, you know, a Republican governor.
      But the legislature is all Democrats. Who are paid a handsome $20,000 a year to steward the public interest.

  • Rob in CT

    I did a little reading on the House vote and it’s sufficiently opaque to me that I’d have to do more research before going into angry freakout mode. I handle environmental insurance claims, so I know a few things (enough to be dangerous!) about Superfund. The core of this seems to be trying to make the EPA play nicer with states. I’ve seen situations where that might’ve been good. I’ve also seen situations where the state response to pollution was flabbergastingly pathetic, and the public would’ve been best served by an aggressive EPA intervention (granted, those instances weren’t superfund sites, so of course the EPA didn’t intervene).

    Given the GOP’s track record of always wanting to weaken enforcement of anything that annoys rich people, I’m fine with a default assumption that this is more of the same, but I’m not actually sure of that.

    • I for one would be really interested in your take on the revisions to insurance requirements.

      You can get a link through the HuffPo piece linked in the Terrible Republican Ideas … post

      • rickhavoc

        Pardon the interruption, and please Rob fix wherever I’m off.

        From the HuffPost piece on it:

        “The bill, called the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, amends both the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (which is commonly known as Superfund). It would remove requirements that the EPA periodically update and review solid waste disposal regulations, and would make it harder for the government to require companies that deal with hazardous substances to carry enough insurance to cover cleanup. The bill would also require more consultation with states before the government imposes cleanup requirements for Superfund sites”

        Superfund itself deals with inactive/abandoned hazardous waste sites and imposes a liability framework that makes each owner, operator, and contributor potentially responsible for cleanup/remediation costs (up to 100%). Without writing a tome on it, its ‘deep pockets’ liability: its impossible to sort out whose discrete ‘contribution’ created the hazard in this pile of goo, and there’s no use imposing liability on a responsible party that has no money, wis where the SWDA insurance requirements kick in…ensuring that there’s money down the line for cleanups. There’s a lot more to it, most of it involving lawyers.

        “More consultation with states” is frippery. 50% more phone calls? Who knows.

        In any event, it won’t be enacted.

    • You know, at this point in my history with the Republican party I really don’t need to do any research before I chose to freak out about some bill they want to pass. I have yet, in my entire history of political observation (and I’m 53) EVER to find that a bill the Republicans are backing is other than the legislative equivalent of forcing kindergartners to eat sewage sludge for school lunch.

      • The only difference is that 20 years ago the bill would just classify sewer sludge as a protein in free school meals. These days the GOP would require kids to undergo drug testing (for which they would pay) before they were allowed to buy sewer sludge vouchers.

        • Sigh. ++++ infinity this. The current Republican party is this *.* close to digging up the corpses of people back to ten generations to check for their immigration papers and their drug abuse status before releasing a welfare check. And if they could they have already indicated they would get rid of birth right citizenship in favor of creating a permanent illegal underclass of people born in this country.

          • I’ve long gotten the feeling that the conservatives are really bummed out by the fact that many blah people have very deep roots (get it?) in America. Or as P.J. O’Rourke put it – “Most blacks have more patrician blood in their veins than the sheet-draped yahoos trying to chase them off school buses.”

            While they now reserve “Go back to where you came from!” for anyone who looks Latino, they must hate knowing that any sort of Distant Immigration Citizenship Law, would not create a whiter, brighter America.

      • DrDick

        I am almost 62 and second your observation.

  • raging red

    Freedom Industries has finally made a public statement since this happened: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rvk9i7

    “Since the discovery of the leak, safety for residents in Kanawha and surrounding counties has been Freedom Industries’ first priority. We have been working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue. Our team has been working around the clock since the discovery to contain the leak to prevent further contamination. At this point, Freedom Industries is still working to determine the amount of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM, a chemical used in processing coal, that has been released, as the first priority was safety, containment and cleanup. Freedom Industries is in the process of setting up an Incident Command Center on site. As more factual information is made available, we will keep you updated.”

    People’s safety was their first priority, but they didn’t notify the water company with an intake just downstream.

    • Also: they know the chemical and apparently its not required of them to have gamed out or “know” the results of a spill of X size and duration? Are they going to insist that its simply not knowable in advance? If they know the chemical they have to have a pretty good guess at its toxicity, even if they can’t specify the dose at the dilution level in the environment right now.

      • raging red

        Right, and the water company has been contacting all kinds of experts to figure out how to even test for the chemical (they didn’t even know how to test for it) and the toxicity level, etc., and meanwhile Freedom Industries is less than a mile away not telling them anything. Presumably they know something about this chemical, but they haven’t been helping the water company at all.

    • Yes, according to Freedom’s theory of emergency response, if you see thick clouds of smoke billowing from a building, you should trace the source of the smoke before calling 911.

    • JGabriel

      Since the discovery of the leak, safety for residents in Kanawha and surrounding counties has been Freedom Industries’ first priority. We have been working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue.

      Translation: Since the discovery of the leak, safety for Freedom Industries has been Freedom Industries’ first priority. We have been working with our lawyers and lobbyists to cover our ass and bribe anyone necessary to avoid criminal prosecution and, even more importantly, to avoid paying out one red cent in costs for cleanup or damages.

  • Malaclypse

    This really takes “They hate us for our Freedom” to a whole new level.

    • Steve LaBonne

      The problem is not that people hate freedom. The problem is that Freedom hates people.

    • Sockie the Sock Puppet

      C’mon! It’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

  • If it wasn’t for all these pesky job-killing regulations, we wouldn’t be having these problems. Freedom would have the freedom to just dump their shit and be on their way to profits.

  • DrS

    It’s all those people’s fault for living there.

    If they’d just learned to code, they would be just fine.

  • Gregor Sansa
    • Gregor Sansa

      that was supposed to respond to DrS.

  • Free Market

    Sheesh, there’s no pleasing some people.

    You complain that there’s no trickle down, and then you complain about the torrent.

  • The Tragically Flip

    “Freedom Industries.” Sigh. How much you want to bet the founder/owners of this thing are Galtian Objectivists or some such?

    I seem to recall some other Galt themed business was in the news awhile back for some kind of grotesque negligence or malfeasance. Anyone remember?

    • Malaclypse

      Don’t know about that, but this is pretty over-the-top.

      • The Tragically Flip

        Aha, this was the thing.

        Officials said a pallet jack fell off a hoist elevator outside the building and plunged 23 stories through a shed, hitting the two firefighters. The firefighters were hospitalized Friday in stable condition, one with a head injury.

        Authorities blamed the accident on a worker for John Galt Corp., a troubled contractor that was on notice that it was about to be dropped from the project for safety problems. Messages left for Galt on Thursday weren’t immediately returned.

        The pending termination of Galt’s contract means officials will soon be looking for someone to take over the $150 million demolition job.

        Before the accident, the name John Galt was known largely as a central character in the Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

        It may take another fictional hero to complete the demolition.

        A libertarian company with a terrible safety record. Unpossible! Market reputation is a perfect regulator.

        • DrS

          Look at those principled libertarians taking government money as contractors.

  • Curtis24

    I hope this company is sued/fined out of business.

  • Ed

    I see the people of West Virginia are getting shipments of water in their time of need from a government they don’t seem to like very much:

    ‘”Many of the poorest counties in West Virginia, which are among the most dependent in the nation on food stamps, unemployment insurance and other federal benefits, voted most heavily for Mitt Romney in 2012.

    “The state that first elected Jay Rockefeller in 1976 as governor is not the same state today,” said Lane Bailey, a former chief of staff to Mr. Rockefeller. Rural West Virginians feel culturally adrift from Washington, said Mr. Bailey, the son of a coal miner. “They are more and more angry, more and more turning inward, because they have become untrusting of a government that they feel has forgotten them.”’

    They’re not wrong. They have been forgotten. I’d like to see the Democrats do more to reach out to these people, deluded though they are in some respects.

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