Skip to content

Register Now to Meet this Year’s Heroes of the Environment

WATCH THE 2022 AWARD CEREMONY

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.

Related Posts

Picture of Maxima outside in Peru

Watch Máxima Acuña Documentary in Online Film Festival


June 5, 2020

This June, participate in a digital film festival screening and live Q&A of the film Maxima by Claudia Sparrow. The award-winning documentary follows the story of Goldman Environmental Prize winner Maxima Acuña (Peru, 2016). The online festival is hosted by international NGO Human Rights Watch. Film synopsis: Maxima tells the incredible story of 2016 environmental Goldman Environmental Prize…

Read more

Q&A with Francia Márquez


August 22, 2018

We sit down with Francia Márquez, 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from Colombia, in our latest Q&A. A passionate community leader and activist, Marquez continues to work on a variety of social, political, and environmental issues since winning the Prize in April. Read her Q&A below to learn what motivated her to fight, organize, and…

Read more

In the Field: Visiting Community Leader Francia Márquez in Colombia


August 15, 2018

This is a post by Goldman Environmental Prize Program Officer Ryan Mack, who documents his visit to Cali, Colombia, to meet with 2018 Prize winner Francia Márquez. A formidable leader of the Afro-Colombian community, Márquez organized the women of La Toma and stopped illegal gold mining on their ancestral land. People are a whirl in…

Read more