Is it just me? Or, does there seem to be an unprecedented number of energy related spills going on right now?
In November, in rural Alabama, a train derailed and exploded, releasing 2.7 million gallons of crude oil. In January, a massive chemical spill (a toxic chemical used to clean coal) into the Elk River in West Virginia has left residents still unable to use their water. February has seen spills left and right: a coal slurry spill on the Kanawha River in WV- basically the same area that is still suffering from the earlier chemical spill; a massive release of coal ash into the Dan River in Virginia; another train derailing up in Minnesota that has 12,000 gallons of spilled crude oil; a train derailed and spilling Canadian crude oil in Pennsylvania and just this week- so close to home- 5,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled in Hominy Creek and have since made it into the French Broad River.
What is going on? At what point do we stop the madness? When we no longer have clean water to drink- it’s game over. Between the spills, the accidents, the fracking, the coal ash, the heavy metals- things are looking ominous.
What happens when solar spills? Oh- right, it’s called a nice day.
There are a number of ways in which we really need to step up and take action. First- we need to pay attention and hold the corporations behind these spills accountable. Next, we need to let our elected officials know that we are paying attention and we demand accountability. And- we need to take steps to reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels- through efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and making the switch to clean, sustainable and renewable solar, wind and water power.
Some ways we can begin to address the spills include the following:
*Greenpeace has a petition, started by campaigner Ben Kroetz, to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, which says: I am writing to demand that Duke Energy clean up the coal ash in the Dan River and prevent future disasters from occurring at its other unlined coal ash dumps. This toxic waste must be removed and stored in dry, lined landfills to protect the safety of our drinking water, rivers, and lakes. You can sign this petition here: Sign Ben’s petition
*To support the citizens of WV there are a number of groups on the ground working on the spill issues. Check out West Virginia Citizen Action Group at http://www.wvcag.org/action_alerts/ as well as Climate Ground Zero at http://climategroundzero.net/. There are also numerous campaigns at Earth Justice http://earthjustice.org/action that address all of these issues.
*2013 was the worst year yet for rail car spills – this one is harder to address as effective work is almost always needed state by state. However- one big step with far reaching consequences is to take action against the Keystone XL pipeline. You can find more information on this in our “Take Action” section. Don’t postpone this action as the deadline for comments is March 7th. Fast approaching.
(photo credit to AP Photo/Gerry Broome)