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Appalachia

Ohio Farmers and Residents Block Driveway to Frack Waste Disposal Site

From Appalachia Resist - February 1, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s

[Sunday, February 2 Update from Appalachia Resist: "Support Rally at the Athens County Courthouse Monday 2/3/14 at 9:15 AM at the arraignment of the eight farmers and local business leaders who were arrested for blocking frack waste trucks from entering an injection well disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia on Saturday. Those arrested include: Kip Rondy, owner of Green Edge Farms; Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed and Mill; Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery; Liz Florentino, Smiles Welch, and Sean Pavlac."]

[7 pm Update from Appalachia Resist facebook: " After stopping frack trucks from coming to the K&H site for hours, the banner carriers are being taken to the sheriff's office for processing. Other demonstrators are leaving -- we will let you know as soon as we can what the charges are, how to support the banner carriers and their families, and what you can do to end fracking and ban injection wells in Ohio."]

Eight farmers and local business leaders have blocked the driveway leading to a fracking waste disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia. Holding a banner that reads “Our Water, Our Lives! Their Poison, Their Lies!” these Athens County residents are stopping frack waste trucks from entering the site and will refuse law enforcement orders to leave.  They want K&H and the ODNR revoke a recent injection well permit and are calling for a ban on injection wells in Ohio and in Athens County specifically.

The blockade is supported by a rally of more than 150 Torch, Coolville, and Athens residents.

They Poisoned the River for a “Clean Coal” Lie

By Trish Kahle - Socialist Worker, January 13, 2014 (used by permission)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

IMAGINE YOURSELF in the rugged countryside of the Appalachian Mountains, where you and your neighbors have lived with a history of poverty and lack of economic development–and you learn that the water piped into your home has been poisoned and can’t be used, even after it is boiled, until further notice.

Imagine trying to run a hospital when the city’s water is unusable–even for hand washing. Imagine having to ration drinking water to school-age children in the fourth most water-rich country on earth.

All of these nightmares and more came true in West Virginia on January 9 after residents reported that their tap water tasted like licorice. The contaminant turned out to be 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCMH–a chemical used to produce misleadingly named “clean coal” through a froth flotation process that “scrubs” the coal prior to burning it in power plants.

The chemical spilled into the Elk River from a 48,000-gallon tank owned by Freedom Industries. The full extent of the leak remained unclear over the weekend. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin claimed the spill didn’t exceed 5,000 gallons, but Freedom Industries President Gary Southern could only say for certain that less than 35,000 gallons leaked out.

Tom Aluise of the West Virginia Environmental Protection Association noted that MCMH cannot be removed from the water–and residents will simply have to wait for thousands of miles of pipelines to be flushed before water safety can be reassessed. “This material pretty much floats on the water, and it’s floating downstream, and eventually it will dissipate, but you can’t actually get in there and remove it,” Aluise said.

That begs the question of why a hazardous chemical that is impossible to clean up if spilled was being stored near a river only one mile upstream from a treatment plant providing water to West Virginia’s capital of Charleston and nine counties that span the surrounding area.

Appalachia Rising

By Grant Mincy - Counterpunch, January 17-19, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On Thursday, January 9 a dangerous toxin, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, leaked from a busted tank and into the Elk River in West Virginia. It is believed that nearly 7,500 gallons of the toxin made its way from the 40,000-gallon tank into the river. It’s unclear how much actually entered the public water supply.

The busted tank is owned by Freedom Industries, which uses the chemical for coal processing. Some 300,000 people have been directly impacted by the disaster, forced to wait in long lines at fire stations to receive potable water. There’s been a constant run on stores for the precious resource as well.

This is a story to often told in Appalachia. The Massey Energy coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky (where 306,000,000 gallons of toxic slurry hit the town) and the TVA coal ash disaster in Kingston, Tennessee, are also part of the history of industrial disaster in the region. This history is wrought with class struggle, environmental degradation and corporatism. From the expulsion of Native Americans to the rise of King Coal, the Hawks Nest incident, the labor struggle, the Battle of Blair Mountain and the wholesale destruction of mountain ecosystems via Mountaintop Removal, Appalachia is on the front lines of the war with the politically connected.

The coalfields of Appalachia have long been home to impoverished people, overlooked by the affluent in the United States. Still, the “War on Poverty” has made its way into the Appalachian hills several times. Most famously, US president Lyndon Johnson singled out the region for his “Great Society” programs, and presidents 42, 43 and 44 have all tried to help the region as well. Instead of offering a new way forward, their programs further damage the area.

Much of the “War On Poverty” has been fought via economic engineering, centralizing the economies of West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky (along with parts of Tennessee and Virginia) into the hands of extractive fossil resource industries — notably coal and natural gas. The mechanization of these industries, however, has reduced the labor force. Specialized labor moving to the region has caused short-term booms and long-term busts. Once an extractive resource is exploited and gone,  communities are left to deal with mono economies and irreversible ecological destruction.

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