FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Toxic

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

After the move to Baltimore in the 80s, we drove to Kentucky at least six times a year to visit family. I remember the landscape and skyline of Kanawha River Valley, now appropriately called Chemical Valley, and of course that stretch of interstate highway carved into towns that include Nitro, Institute, and Charleston. Remember because of the odor. Ashland, Kentucky’s across the state line, another area where haze drifted through the air, settling in and on the ground, water, clothing, skin, and mucous membranes.

I don’t know if the images in my head are accurate. Nor do I know when Chemical Valley acquired its name. It’s been years since I drove the route. But I see a confluence of metal, concrete, and plumes of white, billowing steam from shapes resembling huge planters. And I remember the smell, especially in Nitro. The odor entered the car, invaded the car. “I couldn’t live here,” I’d say. Not because of that smell. Olfactory fatigue would put that to sleep. I was thinking about the children. Their health.

Less than a month ago on January 9, a steel storage tank at Freedom Industries near Charleston, W. VA. leaked 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River a mile and a half upstream from the intake pipes for West Virginia-American Water. This spill contaminated the water supply of 300,000 residents. Then, on January 21, officials announced that another chemical, PPH, also leaked from the tank. Little research is available these chemicals, their effects years after exposure. The Department of Environmental Protection hadn’t inspected Freedom Industries in over 20 years.

So Freedom Industries not only had freedom from scrutiny but it also now has freedom from accountability. The company has filed for bankruptcy.

In the last five years, there have been three toxic spills in Chemical Valley. A woman spoke about this, mentioned her bathtub. That toxins in the water have eaten the enamel off the tub. She wondered what it’s doing to teeth. Yes, I get the connection, but I’m thinking that teeth wouldn’t be among my top concerns in what essentially is a human-subject experiment. But then our planet is a vast laboratory—always has been. Now, the mad scientists employed by trans-national corporations write the grants.

Can you picture the boardroom decision makers, bereft of empathy, laser pointing essential territory? No land or body of water is beyond exploitation in this limitless polluting that renames real estate—like that valley in W. VA. Whether it’s a toxic spill that leaks into a water supply in the US or an unleashing of DNA-changing weaponry in another country whose resources are coveted by big business, it’s all the same, a violation of the sacred. Think of Fallujah now as Birth Defect City, a model illustrating the efficacy of depleted uranium, where babies are born with six arms or two heads. (Here’s a link to Earth’s arms manufacturers with further links demonstrating their contributions to inhumanity and ecological apocalypse.)

Another red dot shines on Fukushima—and suddenly there’s a new acceptable level of cesium in the Radiation Poisoned Pacific. Meanwhile Monsanto has its very own genome project. Perhaps it should be recognized as Monster Mapping. And there’s the oil-rich Gulf Coast where British Petroleum’s deep-water drilling hemorrhage and use of chemical dispersants threaten multiple life forms. Someday it may be known as Corexit Extinction Corridor.

On and on, avarice and sociopathy are destroying our ecosystem. And the catastrophe profiteers with almighty god complexes operate without conscience. Some of us wonder if they care about the future of Earth even for their own children and grandchildren. Apparently not.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail