For anyone who believes that the recent chemical spill in West Virginia was an aberration, this article demonstrates that it's actually just the latest example of how the coal industry's been systematically and knowingly poisoning our water supplies for years.
"I watched the coal industry poison our water for years. Now they're telling us not to drink the water? We've been dumping this stuff into unlined ponds and into old mines for years," he says. "This MCHM was just one of the chemicals we were told was highly toxic but that we dumped into old mine shafts and slurry ponds, and it's been seeping into the groundwater for years."
It sounds bad even before Stanley explains that coal mines are constantly pumped to clear ground water, aquifers, and underground streams: "As soon as we're out of that mine it immediately fills with water. And where does it go from there? I don't know, your guess is as good as mine."
"I haven't drank the water here in years, and I suggest you do the same," he says, pausing and then reiterating. "Don't drink the water. Just don't do it."
There's plenty of evidence to support Stanley's claims.
An Environmental Protection Agency assessment last year identified 132 cases where coal-fired power plant waste has damaged rivers, streams and lakes, and 123 where it has tainted underground water sources, according to an AP investigation by Dina Cappiello and Seth Borenstein. Nearly three quarters of the 1,727 coal mines in the U.S. have not been inspected in five years to see if they are following water pollution laws, according to the same investigation, which cites these and other alarming findings about coal pollution.
Those numbers don't even include pollution by companies in related industries, like Freedom Industries, the chemical company behind this month's spill of coal-cleaning solvent MCHM.