Right now my two nieces have no running water to drink. As a result of the coal chemical spill in West Virginia, they cannot safely use their water even though the citywide ban on drinking tap water has been lifted.
That was the reality for more than 300,000 West Virginians last week, after thousands of gallons of coal-processing chemical spilled into the Elk River. The spill’s aftermath was a full-blown public health emergency; schools closed and thousands of people reported symptoms of chemical exposure. Even now, the contamination is far from over.
The West Virginia chemical spill should be a national outrage. Clean water is a human right, and no one should have to worry if it is safe to take a shower or enjoy a refreshing drink. The awful truth is that the recent chemical spill wasn’t the first West Virginia water crisis; the coal and chemical industries have been poisoning the waters of Appalachia for decades.
We know that the coal industry’s negligence caused the Elk River chemical spill and poisoned West Virginia’s water. However, national media hasn’t reported on numerous other cases where communities in Appalachia experience similar water crises caused by coal industry contamination. Let’s make sure that this crisis gets the attention it needs until every community in Appalachia has access to clean water. A newspaper’s opinion section is the most widely read part of any paper, and editors are eager to publish topical letters. Can you write a letter to the editor in time for Sunday’s paper?
The West Virginia chemical spill demands immediate action to protect our water and a swift transition to a clean energy economy. That will only happen if the crisis receives sustained media attention.
No one should have to live with the fear that their water might poison them. After the West Virginia chemical spill, it is clear that the coal industry poses a danger to public health and drinking water, not to mention coal’s role in driving climate change.
Thank you for protecting human rights and working to expose the truth about the coal industry’s pollution. Together, we can win the actions necessary to protect all water.
Our friends at Keepers of the Mountain, OVEC, Aurora Lights and Coal River Mountain Watch are working together to distribute clean water to those who need it the most. Please support their efforts by making a donation.