I sent this as part of a letter to the editor of Friends of Nigeria, a newsletter of former Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Nigeria.
On January 9, 2014, 10,000 gallons of coal-cleaning chemical spilled into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia where I live. The air and water smelled like licorice and almost two months later, we don’t drink or cook with tap water. I take only one very quick shower per week–the first one made my eyes burn. Not too long after the chemical spill there was a huge black coal waste sludge mess leaked into a creek nearby.
Apropos of these environmental disasters,I found this quote in Jim Hightower’s Lowdown newsletter; “…the water won’t ever clear up until you get the hogs out of the creek.”
In my family’s eighth generation in West Virginia, I have witnessed: mountain top removal strip mining for coal behead 500 mountains; natural gas fracking destroy ground water and habitat for humans and other animals and organisms; long wall underground coal mining cause homes, barns, streams and other surface areas to tilt, shift and crack; schools of dead fish, white belly’s up, drift by our home on the Kanawha River; all the white houses in our neighborhood turn black as the sulfur in the rotten egg smelling air reacted with the lead in the paint; my father blinded in one eye in an underground coal mining accident; and my coal miner father-in-law die with Black Lung.
All of this has happened with much opposition and warning from environmental groups, of which I am a part.Our state, with the cooperation of sold out politicians, has become like a third-world Coal and Chemical Chernobyl.
Find some of that history in West Virginia History in Op-eds and Letters to the Editor: 1964-2014 http://wildwonderfulwv.us/julian/. And for more commentary see my blog: The News From Sam’s Branch http://samsbranch.me. And coming soon on Amazon.com: The Soviet Union and Lincoln County USA, a memoir of my 22 years teaching in Lincoln County, West Virginia.