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On February 3, the WV Legislature held a public hearing on SB 373, a bill crafted in response to the MCHM chemical / water crisis still unfolding here in Central West Virginia. Below are the comments from one of the 50 people who spoke last night.
My name is Sheila McEntee and I am a resident of Charleston. I am here because I am still living through what the National Science Foundation has called “one of the largest, human-made environmental disasters in this century.” Like so many others, I lost my clean water after the January 9 Freedom Industries spill into the Elk River.
For nine days after the water company’s go-ahead to flush, I would not use my water for anything, due to the stench. This was difficult, but I feared for my health. Eventually, I could not go without the water. I have washed my body and belongings in water laced with a substance made for washing coal. I still will not drink it.
Each day since the spill has brought more troubling news. Now I wonder: Is the chemical lodged in the water pipes of my home? Will I suffer long-term health effects from exposure to my water? These questions are frightening. What additional price will I pay for the gross negligence of others?
We cannot undo the chemical spill. But we can make sure such a tragedy never happens again. I ask that you consider Senate Bill 373 and strengthen it to the fullest, so that it truly protects citizens and our natural resources. Include the recommendations of the Chemical Safety Board and please make sure that ALL sources of potential contamination are regularly inspected and strongly regulated.
It will be a long time before we fully understand the consequences of this tragic event. Our trust has been shaken and must be restored. I ask you to do all you can to do this. Thank you.