Chemical Spills, Mining Disaters, and Mushroom Clouds

Many of you that come to this blog do not know me.  I went to school at West VirginiaUniversity in Morgantown for four years.  I am dating a girl is originally from West Virginia.  Because of this I have been paying attention to the chemical spill in WV. 

The scope of what happened and the reasons behind it are obscene.  However, in some ways it is not really a new story.  I live in Texas and often drive past West on the way to Dallas gigs.  Remember when the fertilizer plant in that town turned into a small mushroom cloud?  These stories are what happens when there is no competent regulation.  In West Virginia there had been no inspection since 1991.  In West there hadn’t been an inspection since 1985. 

Between 1905 and 1920 there were around 2,000 fatal accidents in the coal mining industry every year.  There are reasons that there were environmental and safety standards put into place during the 20th century.  These tragedies are straight out of the past. 

Hopefully sooner or later people will understand that although the government should be carefully watched, it and its regulations are there for a reason.  We need it to keep in check the bloodier and more destructive elements of capitalism.  These are the kind of problems that the free market does not fix.  We need markets to create growth, but we need a strong regulatory presence to keep the excesses of that market in check.  It’s a balancing act, but one that is very important.  Ever since the Reagan administration these protections have been under strong attack.  I hope we can learn from these events and once again relegate such obscene tragedies to the past, this time forever.  


2 thoughts on “Chemical Spills, Mining Disaters, and Mushroom Clouds

  1. Hello,

    WV resident here, I live on the far edge of the affected area. According to the EPA, the chemical that was accidentally released is not a toxin. It is only lethal in high doses. According to the water company, the water is safe to drink.

    On some levels I do agree but my family will continue to drink bottle water for a while longer. I don’t know that the blame rests anywhere but the company that failed to protect the product. I would expect that the company will cease to exist in the near future and I wouldn’t be surprised if some company employees do time.

    I cant lay the blame for this accident on the alter of Capitalism or Free Market. And I cant fault the EPA for a lack of oversight because this was a chemical they deemed to be non-hazardous.

    No matter who is at fault, it is a real inconvenience.


    1. Extremely sorry to hear that you have been affected by this. I haven’t heard from anyone that I know in WV that has been affected, but I do know some people that are from that area, from my college days, and have been wondering if they are still there and how they are doing. I still think, even if this event is slightly different as you say, there is a pattern of industrial corporations not looking out for the public interest. There is also a pattern in the last 30 years to discredit regulations that protect that public interest. I understand the value of a free market in creating innovation and incentive. But I think we need another force, and unfortuantely the government is the only force strong enough to do it, to keep the excesses of the free market in check.

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