CDC: No WV health officials specifically trained for chemical disaster

August 19, 2014
by Dave Boucher, Charleston Daily Mail
Capitol Notebook Blog

None of West Virginia’s state public health officials were trained to respond to a chemical disaster at the time of the recent massive chemical leak and water contamination, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Virginia doesn’t have any state health officials specifically trained in responding to chemical disasters like the one that happened at Freedom Industries in January, according to a new federal report…

Read the full blog post at

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Protect Farmworker Families from Toxic Pesticide Exposure


For decades, the people who harvest our food have risked their health in the course of their daily work, being continually exposed to pesticides just so that we can have food to eat. You can play a key role in helping to push the EPA to keep their promise to farmworkers and to do their job to protect the people who harvest our food.

The EPA is proposing revisions to the Worker Protection Standard that provide workplace protections to farmworkers. To help make your voice heard on this issue, click here.

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Valve failure causes explosion, leak at Nitro facility

by David Gutman, Staff writer and Ken Ward Jr.

Valves failed Wednesday on two chemical storage tanks at a Nitro industrial waste-handling facility, causing an explosion and an oil leak that was contained within the operation’s spill-collection system, officials said. – See more at:


Posted in chemical, chemical disaster, chemical safety, Chemical Safety Board, Chemical Safety Improvement Act, chemical safety regulation, Chemical Valley, emergency response, Kanawha River, Ken Ward Jr., Manchin, Nitro, Poverty and Chemical Disasters, right-to-know, water quality, WV, WV Water Crisis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Toledo water ban lifted

As of this morning, the Toledo water ban has been lifted. Water distribution has ceased even though some residents don’t feel safe resuming normal consumption just yet. Having experienced similar circumstances in WV, it’s easy to relate.

Thanks to those who assisted in water relief efforts for our Toledo neighbors. Let us not forget others in Detroit, other parts of WV and Bhopal who still need clean drinking water.


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PCACS helps with Toledo Water Relief


When the Elk River Chemical Spill hit, we didn’t know how long it would last or when our water would be safe.  It was a frightening and stressful time for over 300,000 West Virginians.  Six months out from the event, our neighbors in Toledo, OH are dealing with a similar situation as an algal bloom has contaminated the drinking water supply for 500,000 people.  A Do Not Drink ban is still in place and they are uncertain of when the ban will be lifted.  Parents will have to bathe their children in bottled water, cook with bottled water, brush their teeth with bottled water…  Sadly, we know what that’s like.

It’s time for West Virginians to do what West Virginians do best and help our neighbors.

People Concerned About Chemical Safety is traveling to Toledo to deliver water but WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We need to raise $1,000 to rent a van that we can fill full of bottled water.

Won’t you help?

  • $250 will help us get the van
  • $150 will help with gas
  • $600+ needed for water

If we don’t reach our goal of $1,000, we’ll do what we can with what we’ve got, but $1,000 is a drop in the bucket of what is needed for the people of Toledo.  Anything in excess will go toward on the ground relief efforts as directed by the people on the ground.


Posted in emergency response, environmental health, MCHM, toxic, toxic exposure, Uncategorized, water quality, WV Water Crisis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Crude MCHM more toxic than self-reported by Eastman Chemical: Local response to new toxicity data



Charleston, WV — People Concerned About Chemical Safety (PCACS) is calling on Governor Tomblin and the Center for Disease Control to swiftly undertake additional testing on crude MCHM in light of data released today by Dr. Andrew Whelton at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) annual conference.

At a joint presentation, Dr. Andrew Whelton, University of South Alabama professor, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Health a Officer and Executive Director, Major General James Hoyer of WV National Guard, and Dr. David Latif, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, will be presenting lessons learned from the Elk River chemical spill to public health officials from across the country.  New toxicity data released this morning by Dr. Whelton reveal that crude MCHM is more toxic than previously reported by Eastman Chemical Manufacturing.  This data was compiled by Dr. Whelton with a group of University of South Alabama graduate students during an originally unfunded expedition to collect water samples from impacted homes in West Virginia immediately following the January 9th Freedom Industries Elk River chemical spill.  Following the incident, the National Science Foundation recognized the scientific need for these studies and stepped in to enable the work to continue.  Dr. Whelton and crew, including Caroline Novy, the graduate student of the University of South Alabama who completed the testing, are now collaborating with the United States Geological Survey to examine specifically how the organisms they tested are affected by crude MCHM exposure.

While the governor-funded West Virginia Testing Assessment Project reviewed existing data provided by Eastman Chemical to the Centers for Disease Control — data upon which worker exposure limits and public health directives were determined — it was Dr. Whelton and his students who independently sought to verify the basis for the Eastman data.  Their results leave many concerned for their health as well as the lax regulations that govern chemicals such as crude MCHM.

This information has national implications for public health in how we determine safe levels of exposure for the general public, for worker safety and how we determine worker exposure limits and handling procedures, how we regulate chemicals not intended for human consumption, and how much faith emergency responders should place in industry data.

“We can no longer rely on industry self-reporting to protect the public health,” says Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety.  “We need checks and balances, and we need additional tests to understand the long-term health effects of worker and community exposure to this chemical and all other chemicals grandfathered in under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).”

People Concerned About Chemical Safety has already garnered over 1,000 signatures on a petition to fund further studies of the TSCA regulated chemical that was grandfathered in without requiring adequate tests to determine human health hazards.

“Our goal is to have one signature for every person impacted by this chemical disaster, and for our government to take our call seriously.  If this chemical disaster had happened in New York, Chicago, Boston or Los Angeles rather than West Virginia, I have no doubts that these tests would already be underway.  West Virginians have a right-to-know how exposure to this chemical could affect us over the long haul.”

Review additional information on the recent tests at Dr. Whelton’s website at  To sign PCACS petition, click HERE. ABOUT PEOPLE CONCERNED ABOUT CHEMICAL SAFETY (PCACS)

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Support tests for West Virginia chemical disaster


Click on image to

On January 9, 2014, crude MCHM, a chemical used to process coal leaked into the water supply for 300,000 residents across nine West Virginia counties. The drinking water ban for pregnant women lasted nearly one month but mixed messages have left most residents not trusting the safety of their drinking water. Estimates of more than 100,000 people experienced health effects, yet no data exists to understand what the long term health effects will be. It has been reported that the chemical has been found in drinking water in coalfield communities for years. The chemical, grandfathered in under the Toxic Substances Control Act, was legally allowed to be placed on the market without sufficient toxicological data. Current regulations in place allow the chemical to remain on the market today without this data.

Workers and communities — including vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children — have a right-to-know how exposure to this chemical can impact them in order to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families.  If this incident had happened in Washington, DC and not West Virginia, many feel the tests would already be underway.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to help make this happen.  Please, do not underestimate the power of your voice.  Join People Concerned About Chemical Safety in urging our government to provide toxicological tests needed to understand the largest chemical contamination of a drinking water supply in U.S. history.

Link to the petition:

Posted in Bayer CropScience, Bhopal disaster, chemical disaster, chemical safety, Chemical Safety Board, chemical safety regulation, Chemical Valley, emergency response, environmental health, EPA, MCHM, Poverty and Chemical Disasters, right-to-know, toxic exposure, Toxic Substance Control Act, TSCA, West explosion, worker fatality, WV Water Crisis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Women & Water: Lessons from the Elk River Chemical Spill Listening Sessions



Maya Nye, President
People Concerned About Chemical Safety

Margaret Chapman-Pomponio, Executive Director

Women & Water: Lessons from 
the Elk River Chemical Spill Listening Sessions

Immediately following the Center for Disease Control’s advisory against pregnant women consuming water in the chemical spill zone, WV FREE sprang into action.
“The clear reproductive health effects of the disaster compelled us to reach out to women in the affected area,” said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, WV FREE Executive Director. “Increasing public engagement in public issues and creating space for raising civic and social concerns is a main objective of our movement.”

Between February and April 2014, WV FREE enlisted the help of People Concerned About Chemical Safety to conduct six listening sessions to hear directly from women and families about how the Elk River chemical spill has impacted their lives.  Sixty adults participated in the listening sessions which were held in various churches and public housing complexes in Charleston and at the Putnam County Courthouse.  Their questions, concerns and suggested action steps are documented in a report entitled, “Women & Water: Lessons from the Elk River Chemical Spill Listening Sessions”.

Six key findings from the report indicate that 1) lives were interrupted, 2) physical health impacts were experienced, 3) fear and anxiety is pervasive, 4) there is a decreased level of trust with government officials, 5) particular concerns for vulnerable populations (including pregnant women and children), and that 6) civic engagement is necessary.

Recommendations from the listening sessions are grouped into seven categories including: 1) improve and increase monitoring activities and health studies, 2) prioritize addressing exposures in women and children, 3) continue bottled water distribution in schools and public housing, 4) distribute water to seniors and others with limited mobility, 5) ensure safe water supply and backup water sources, 6) strengthen and enforce chemical safety laws, and 7) educate, organize and mobilize communities to increase civic engagement.
“This report underscores the need for additional toxicological testing on crude MCHM.  Scientists have called for it.  Doctors have called for it,” said Maya Nye, President of People Concerned About Chemical Safety.  “Women and workers have a right-to-know how exposure can impact them in order to make informed health decisions for themselves and their families.”

The entire report is available online at


REPORT CORRECTION:  Information described on page 3 of the report cites that ”As of April, the Kanawha‐Charleston Health Department estimated that roughly one in three people (92,568‐ 108,819) experienced health impacts from the spill.”  Please note that data on the 108,819 people impacted was compiled by Dr. Andrew Whelton and is not part of the ongoing WVTAP project funded by the West Virginia Bureau of Health.

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Seeking Frequent Flyer miles donors!

ICJB – North America will be coordinating panel discussions at the Association for India’s Development (AID) annual conference (Boulder CO), and the Left Forum (NYC). Joining the panels will be Maya Nye of People Concerned about Chemical Safety in West Virginia to discuss how Bhopal impacted US chemical safety, why Bhopal is important for the US environmental justice movement, and local “Bhopals”.

We need help getting Maya to these events! If you have extra United Airlines miles you can “donate” to help her get to the panels, please send us a message or e-mail us at! Flights are running around 25,000 miles each, some higher. We will help coordinate all the logistics and pay for any fees. Many thanks!

You can also donate directly to People Concerned About Chemical Safety to help support our ongoing efforts!

Posted in Bhopal disaster, chemical safety, ICJB, Left Forum, methyl isocyanate, MIC, Toxic Substance Control Act, TSCA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Who’s in Danger? A Demographic Analysis of Chemical Disaster Vulnerability Zones

Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters: Over three thousand communities live under the threat of Toxic Chemical Disasters like what happened in West, Texas and Elk River, West Virginia. The Black and Latino populations in these communities are much greater than for the whole U.S. Find out more with the new Environmental Justice and Health Alliance Report:


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