West Virginia chemical spill shines spotlight on loose regulation

Charleston, West Virginia (CNN) — It sounds like a dangerous combination: massive tanks holding chemicals near a major water supply.

That was the setup in West Virginia last week when a chemical spill contaminated a river supplying water to hundreds of thousands of people. Officials say there wasn’t much regulation at the site where the spill occurred and that little is known about the chemical that leaked.

Now, state officials say they’re considering increasing oversight.

“Absolutely,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told CNN. “We need to do what we can to see that this kind of incident never happens again. There’s no excuse for it.”

Two U.S. congressmen say the spill exposes regulatory gaps in the country’s chemical control laws.

And many in the area are asking key questions: What caused thousands of gallons of a chemical used to clean coal to spill into the water? How dangerous is the chemical? And why didn’t anyone catch the problem sooner?


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