You might remember that North Carolina is the state where coal ash from Duke Energy storage basins spilled into the Dan River polluting the river and the drinking water reservoirs further downstream.
You might also remember that Duke Energy is fighting a court ruling so that they will not have to clean up the mess.
Not only was the water polluted, but coal ash sludge now coats 70 miles of the river’s shore line.
Duke has 33 ash dumps at 14 power plants in North Carolina which are located along the rivers and lakes that supply drinking water to nearby cities and towns. Even if they clean up the already existing spill and the sludge left behind, instead of removing the contents of the remaining ash basins to lined landfills licensed to handle hazardous waste, Duke wants to be able to simply cover the remaining basins with plastic sheets and cover them with dirt.
The problem is that this will force leakage into the underlying ground water.
Then just up the road apiece a chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia dumped 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol just upstream from the principal West Virginia American Water intake and treatment and distribution center that affected up to 300,000 residents within nine counties. .
People are being affected by something most of us cannot even pronounce.
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board had contacted West Virginia state authorities 2 years before this spill to come up with a program in 2011 to establish a program to prevent chemical accidents and releases in the "Chemical Valley" so named for the amount of chemical processing and production facilities and the resulting pollution.
Uinta Basin is the heart of the fossil fuel drilling/fracking in Eastern Utah. A year ago a midwife in that area, while attending the funeral of a stillborn child, noticed a number of graves in the cemetery with dates showing what she considered an unusually large number of recent infant deaths.
Her investigation showed 12 cases of neonatal deaths in 2013. There was a gradual increase of such deaths since 2010, but 2013 seemed to have a spike. With a population in the area of 10,000 this made the deaths there higher than the national average and counter to the national trend of a decline.
Drinking and smoking during pregnancy could not be a factor as the population is heavily Mormon, and because the population is decidedly white, those problems experienced by minorities don't factor in either.
Actually the mid-wife found only one thing had change in that valley, and it wasn’t the behavior of the people. The valley is suddenly experiencing a huge increase in air pollutants since fracking has begun there, and studies have shown that breathing in pollutants can negatively affect pregnancies especially in the amounts the people of the Uinta Valley are breathing them.
Fracking has brought a degree of prosperity to the area, so she has been targeted by politicians and business owners who support it.
She, meanwhile, remains concerned about the postnatal mortality rate.
One would think that since a state like Utah is a pro-life state, the fact that there is an increase in still births and neonatal deaths would be a cause for concern. But, in the choice between profits and children, the deaths of the children can be simply ignored.
The reflexive response would be to scream “alarmist” and simply say there is really nothing wrong. However, actions elsewhere do bring suspicion that there are negative effects of fracking, and that something is being kept from the people, even if we ignore the greatly magnified tectonic activity in states where earthquakes have been, until recently, rare.
Protesters of fracking face arrest in certain states if they show up within a certain area around a site to protest, and in other states anyone caught taking pictures of any spills or questionable practices face arrest for a felony.
Now considering that chemicals if improperly introduced into the environment, especially the water supply, can have a negative effect on people, it would stand to reason that if a corporation was going to use chemicals people should have a right to know that they are.
20 states have laws that regulate the use of certain toxic chemicals. However, Congress is considering the Chemicals in Commerce Act which would prohibit states from enforcing those laws. It would also override state laws that merely require fracking companies disclose what chemicals they are using.
Last week three Republican state senators in North Carolina, the home of chemical spillage, introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on anyone who disclosed what chemicals are being used in the fracking process.
Even though the bill does establish procedures for first responders to get chemical information during emergencies, what they find must be kept confidential. Leaking the names of the chemicals used would result in fines and several months in prison.
Fracking companies could require local first responders to sign a confidentiality agreement.
This pits energy companies who claim the chemicals used is proprietary information against public health advocates who are concerned about the impact to the health of people in the community.
It is people vs corporations, and it would appear that North Carolina has chosen to side with corporations.
So when fracking begins in that state, the citizens will be left in the dark about what is being pumped into the land and leaking into the water tables.
One of the biggest corporate players in this corporation vs people is Haliburton.