Chemical spill shows system isn’t working

An editorial from the Exponent Telegram 

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — As state, local and company officials continue efforts to provide clean water to a majority of the Kanawha Valley, we hope they and others are keeping a watchful eye on potentially dangerous situations elsewhere.

While we’re sure the blame game over the chemical spill at Freedom Industries will continue to heat up and drag on for months, several aspects are obvious.

The company’s holding tank failed. According to numerous published reports, the tank was at least 50 years old. One would think tanks with that type of age on them would require close supervision and maintenance.

But there are indications there was not sufficient regulation of this plant on the Elk River or others along the Kanawha River, which winds through the area known as the state’s “Chemical Valley.”

The Charleston Gazette reports that recommendations by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to start a new safety program in the Kanawha Valley three years ago went unheeded by state and local officials.

Those recommendations came after an explosion and fire at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute. That incident left two workers dead.

While it’s hopeful that this incident won’t lead to any deaths, the potential health risks that hundreds of thousands of residents have been exposed to should serve as an impetus to boost regulatory oversight not just in the Kanawha Valley but throughout the Mountain State…

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