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March 26, 2014

Public Meeting on MCHM and Water; Complaint to File; Petitions to Sign No Matter Where You Live
On March 25, the Charleston Gazette reported: 'Trace amounts' of MCHM found in Elk plant water.

This morning, WV Public Radio is reporting: Testing at WVAM Indicates Filtering Process Adds Trace Amounts of MCHM to Water Supply.

Find out more about what is still going on in terms of MCHM and water from WV American Water's Elk River plant: Folks in and near Charleston, WV are urged to attend a public meeting this Friday, March 28. Join us starting at 9 a.m. in the Ferrell Hall Auditorium at WV State University in Institute, WV.

The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project (WV TAP) has been testing tap water in homes in all nine counties impacted by the MCHM/PHP-in-our-drinking-water incident.

During the public meeting Friday, the WV TAP team will present information on:

(1) The WV TAP Team and Website
(2) The Crude MCHM Odor Threshold Study
(3) The 10-Home Study: Resident Interviews and Tap Water Analysis (4) Examination of Tentatively Identified Compounds and their Implications
(5) Expanded Home Tap Water Monitoring Plan: Preliminary Results (6) The Expert Panel
(7) Project Summary and Next Steps

The meeting will run until 3 p.m., with plenty of time for Q & A between attendees and presenters. Please come out! Make certain “officials” know the public still has questions and still needs answers and actions that will prevent further pollution of our water.

One big question folks still have: Is my water safe? If you can't trust what's coming out of your tap and you are a customer of WV American Water, please consider filing an informal complaint with the Public Service Commission. You can do this from anywhere in the state, as long as you or a relative are customers of WVAW; it doesn't take up any more of your time than making a phone call or sending an e-mail message.

To file an informal complaint with the PSC, follow three simple steps:

1. Call the PSC’s toll-free complaint line (1-800-642-8544) or file an informal complaint online.

2. Specify that you are filing an informal complaint under West Virginia State Rule 150-1-6.

3. Provide the receptionist with the following information:

- Your name, mailing and physical addresses, city, county, zip code, telephone number and email address (if you want them to use it)

- Your utility account number (available on your latest water bill or your online account)

- State that you are requesting that the PSC open a general investigation into West Virginia American Water’s billing practices during the water crisis, their emergency preparedness, and their processes for identifying, monitoring, and testing for potential contaminants in our water supply.

Even though you may be very angry, please be courteous with the person answering the phone at the PSC.

The more informal complaints that the PSC gets, the more likely it is that there will be an investigation — which needs to happen. WVAW's president contends WVAW did nothing wrong, and would do the same thing again in a similar situation. He has also admitted that his staff do not try to collect information on what type of potential contaminants are located upstream of their water intakes. And, as the WV Public radio story above reports, the water company has not changed filters at its Elk River plant since the January 9 spill.

 Alarming? If you think so, please do file that complaint.  

No matter where you live, you can still help out. Maya Nye, with People Concerned About Chemical Safety, notes that on August 1, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.

Since then, federal agencies have held listening sessions around the country, but not here, to gather public input on how to improve chemical facility safety.The water contamination crises and other chemical tragedies in our area underscore the need for one of these listening sessions in Charleston.

Although the public comment period on this executive order ends March 31, Maya advises us that we need to push for a listening session here in Charleston. So please sign:

Petition 1:  Directly requesting the Department of Homeland Security to initiate a listening session in Charleston. (This is round 2 for this petition. If you signed it before, please do sign again.)

Petition 2:  Asking our congressional representatives and governor to request a listening session on our behalf.

West Virginians have had their water contaminated from MCHM, coal prep plant waste “disposal” practices, mountaintop removal coal mining, processes associated with deep shale gas fracking and chemical leaks. We deserve to have our input taken into consideration as federal chemical safety and security laws are enacted! 

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Good News in Court for EPA in MTR Case
Good News: Supreme Court Rejects Coal Industry Attack on the EPA’s Power to Protect Clean Water; EPA's Veto of Part Spruce No. 1 Mine Permit.

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Spruce Mine case

Above: The community of Spruce Valley, and Pigeon Roost Hollow in Logan County, WV. Much of this area would be wiped out by the Spruce No. 1 Mine.

As Coal River Mountain Watch's Vern Haltom pointed out in the press release linked-to above, much better news would be that mountaintop removal is finally over. One thing you can do to help hasten the demise of MTR is to support the ACHE Act.

Good Reads: Coal leaves deep, wide wake in West Virginia

Mountaintops, communities permanently altered in West Virginia

Good Watch: In Coal Country, a Community Fights for Wind

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ASA Conference Starts Friday
The Appalachian Studies Association’s annual conference starts this Friday at Marshall University. Marshall students can attend for free, so, students, come on out, with your student ID.

OVEC will have a table in the exhibitors’ area. We’ll host a workshop: Owning our heritage: stories of family cemetery preservation struggles in West Virginia at 11 a.m. on Friday. OVEC volunteers and staff and board members will be on several panels throughout the conference, including Our Water, Our Future: The State of the Mountaintop Removal Movement, A vision of economic transition from the grassroots: The “Economic Transition Listening Project” of the Alliance for Appalachia, and Shannon Bell’s “Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed”: Author meets Critics.

There’s so much more, including Dust in the Bottomland, Launching the Supporting Emerging Appalachian Leadership (SEAL) Network and a screening of Goodbye Gauley Mountain.

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Ohio River Nibi Walk and Other Upcoming Events

On Earth Day, April 22, a group of indigenous women and their allies will begin a walk in Pittsburgh, PA, at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, the birthplace of the Ohio River. They’ll carry a ceremonial copper vessel, filled with water from that point, all along the entire 981-mile length of the Ohio to Cairo, IL, where the Ohio empties into the Mississippi.

Their walk is called the Nibi Walk, and every step is a prayer for the water. Nibi means water in the Anishinaabe language. The women tell us, “In our teachings it was promised that the water will always flow down to us as long as we remember to sing and make the offerings to the water. We believe these songs and offerings are crucial now, when the health of our freshwater is at great risk, and we invite people from all walks of life to join us in our sacred mission.”

WV Rivers Coalition and OVEC will help support the NIBI Walk 2014. One way we can help is provide lodging and evening community meals for the women along the way. Their route and estimated days of arrival in towns along the river is here. If you are interested in participating, please reply to this e-mail. You can follow the walk on Facebook.

Also around Earth Day, OVEC will be tabling in the Huntington and Parkersburg areas. We'll update our online calendar with dates and locations soon. Shannon Bell will be visiting with us, with copies of her book Our Roots Run Deep As Ironweed.

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Save the Date: Mobilize in D.C. September 8 - 9.

Save the Date: We need all of you in Charleston, WV on September 27. Please save the date. For real, mark it on your calendar now. More details on the way.

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In This Alert

MCHM Meeting, File Complaint, Chemical Safety Petitions

Good News in Court for EPA
in MTR Case

ASA Conference Starts Friday

Ohio River Nibi Walk and Other Upcoming Events

Petition: Tell the EPA: It’s time to protect all our waterways

April 13: 10 p.m. (Eastern time) New Series Premiere: Years of Living Dangerously on Showtime. From the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy to the upheaval caused by drought in the Middle East, this groundbreaking documentary event series provides first-hand reports on those affected by, and seeking solutions to, climate change.
Watch a preview here. Learn more here.
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