4-methylcyclohexane methanol

Hudson River Congressman Paul Tonko Calls for Charleston, WV Spill Hearing 0

In our previous EarthDesk post we examined the connection between the Charleston, WV spill into the Elk River, the failed Federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and our home river, the Hudson.

On January 13, Representive Paul Tonko, the Hudson River Valley’s leading environmental congressman, joined Representative Henry Waxman in calling for a hearing to examine the law in light of the little known about 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHN), the chemical spilled by Freedom Industries on January 9. The drinking water of 300,00 people in around Charleston was affected and the public water supply rendered unusable for most of a week.

The New York Times, in an April 18 editorial criticized TSCA at length. An excerpt:

For the most part, the law requires the government to prove that a chemical is unsafe before it can be removed or kept off the market instead of requiring manufacturers to prove that their chemicals are safe before they can be sold and used.

See more at EarthDesk, December 19, 2013.

Following is the letter from Congressmen Tonko and Waxman to Representative John Shimkus, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce: More . . .

The West Virginia Spill: What We Don’t Know and Why We Should Know It 1

For five days, 300,000 people of Charleston, West Virginia and the surrounding area lost their regular source of drinking water due to a spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol by Freedom Industries into the Elk River. Investigations into the cause are underway.

Freedom Industries on the Elk River, Charleston, West Virginia. Google Maps

Alarmed and puzzled residents, government officials, and reporters demanded answers. Among the most asked questions:

Question 1: Is 4-methylcyclohexane methanol toxic?

Question 2: Why is a dangerous industrial chemical being used adjacent a public water supply?

Perplexing questions but the answers are of the everyday, garden variety in the behind-the-scenes debate over regulation of toxic, hazardous and industrial chemicals.

Answer 1: There is no reliable answer. 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, an industrial compound used in coal production, is one of more than 85,000 chemicals for which there has been inadequate testing.

Answer 2: Water supplies all over the nation are in the vicinity of facilities that store, use or transport hazardous and toxic chemicals.

Rhinebeck Drinking Water Treatment Plant, Hudson River, Rhinebeck, NY. Google Maps

How dangerous is the spill really?

That depends on who’s talking.

Monday on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown, Chuck Todd dismissed the chemical with one bite of sound, “Not deadly.” Have we become so jaded that “deadly” is now the measure of dangerous? More . . .