Coal Related Chemical Spill Contaminates Drinking Water in West Virginia

January 14, 2014

2009 Goldman Prize winner Maria Gunnoe is one of over 300,000 West Virginians whose water has been contaminated by a coal-related chemical spill.

Gunnoe won the Goldman Prize in 2009 for her fight against environmentally-devastating mountaintop removal coal mining and valley fill operations. Today, she is a leading voice in the campaign to expose the environmental hazards wrought from coal production.

Since Friday, January 10, over 5,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol – an industrial chemical used in coal processing – have leaked into the Elk River, contaminating the region’s drinking water.

The ban on tap water issued on Friday has yet to be lifted and officials have still not declared an official estimate for when water will be safe for consumption. President Obama has declared a federal emergency in the region and National Guard trucks have been delivering water to communities via tanker trucks.

In reaction to the news, Gunnoe posted the following on her Facebook page:

“Clean coal is a lie and we know this to be true. Is clean water going to be another lie?

Sad to say but this is also likely the truth. The cleaner their coal gets the deadlier our water is.

West Virginia, wild, wonderful and wounded.”

Gunnoe will be joining 2013 Prize winner Kimberly Wasserman as a guest speaker at a Goldman Prize event entitled “The Goldman Prize at 25” on March 6, 2014 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. Tickets are available to the public and can be purchased by clicking here.