Health & Science

Chemical Leak
2:59 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Prosecuters Say Ex-Freedom Industries President A Flight Risk

Gary Southern
Credit WOWK

Federal prosecutors want a former executive charged in a January chemical spill on home confinement with electronic monitoring.

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Oil and Gas Industry
2:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

New York Governor Praised, Scorned Over Fracking Ban

Credit Northeast Natural Energy

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is getting heaped with praise by environmentalists and scorn by business for a state ban on deep hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, even as he insists the decision wasn't his.

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Oil and Gas Industry
8:50 am
Thu December 18, 2014

After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Before/After screen capture of the Mark West Plant, a major mid-stream gas processing plant that's in the middle of construction in Doddridge County.
Credit WV Host Farms

Nuisance and negligence lawsuits have been filed this year throughout West Virginia related to horizontal drilling activities. Noise, air, and water pollution, traffic and debris are among complaints. It’s a new industrial world for many West Virginians living in the growing rural gas fields.  

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Don Blankenship Criminal Case
6:15 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Outlets Want Gag Order Lifted While Blankenship Wants to Change Trial Location

Credit Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship appeared Wednesday in US Federal Court in Beckley.

Judge Irene Berger heard arguments in two hearings in relation to Blankenship’s criminal case.  

One involved a motion to lift the broad gag order while the other requested more time to prepare motions and for trial.

Several media outlets including Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR are challenging a gag order Judge Berger issued after former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

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Oil and Gas Industry
1:45 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

New York Bans Fracking

Horizontal drilling pad at the Morgantown Industrial Park, where more horizontal drilling is slated for 2015.
Credit Northeast Natural Energy

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will move to prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

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10:49 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Judge Denies Morgantown Heavy Truck Traffic-Limiting Ordinance

Credit Safe Streets Morgantown / via Facebook

A municipal ordinance to limit heavy traffic through the downtown district of Morgantown has been declared “unenforceable” in Kanawha Circuit Court.

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Abuse Investigation
10:40 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Three More People Face Charges in Abuse Investigation

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / WV Humanities Council

Three additional people face charges stemming from an investigation of abuse allegations at a center for developmentally disabled adults and children in Romney.

Hampshire County Magistrate Ron DiColia said Springfield resident Kevin Helms, Romney resident Jessica Carter, and Pennsylvania resident Justin Wright have each been charged with one count of failure to report abuse and neglect. The charge is a misdemeanor.

Helms and Carter have been released on bond. Wright is being transported to Hampshire County from Pennsylvania.

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Oil and Gas Industry
8:45 am
Wed December 17, 2014

More Fracking Slated in Morgantown

Morgantown Industrial Park
Credit Northeast Natural Energy

Amid much controversy, two horizontal gas wells were drilled into the Marcellus shale rock formation in 2011 just barely outside of Morgantown. Now two more wells are slated to be drilled on the same pad in the summer of 2015, but the company, Charleston-based Northeast Natural Energy is teaming up this time with a host of researchers.

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Chemical Spill Study
3:36 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Feds Say MCHM Toxic to Pregnant Rats


Federal health researchers say a chemical that spilled into 300,000 people's water supply in January is toxic to pregnant rats in high doses.

The National Toxicology Program provided the update Friday on MCHM, a coal-cleaning agent.

Researchers found slight fetal weight changes for rats given daily doses 150 times stronger than what officials called safe for human drinking.

At 300 times the safe level, fetal weight decreased. At 600, some rats' fetal weight dropped, while miscarriages increased.

Others at 600 and 900 showed obvious clinical toxicity.

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An Inspiring West Virginian
2:51 pm
Sun December 14, 2014

She Has One Million Patients

Bluefield native Patrice Harris, MD, is one of the nation’s leading psychiatrists and an inspiring West Virginian.
Credit Jean Snedegar

Patrice Harris, MD, a native of Bluefield, WV,  is one of the nation’s leading psychiatrists.

Harris and 3 other leaders in science and business will be featured in the broadcast of Inspiring West Virginians, airing Dec. 29 at 8 PM on West Virginian Public Radio.

Harris is currently the District Health Director for Fulton County, Georgia, which includes the city of Atlanta, and is responsible for more than a million patients.

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4:24 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Petition Asks W.Va. Govenor Not to Allow Drilling Under Ohio River

Ohio River

Govenor Earl Ray Tomblin received a petition with 3,820 signatures requesting he disallow horizontal drilling under the Ohio River.

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An Inspiring West Virginian
12:16 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Moundsville Native Is A Pioneering Astrobiophysicist

Pioneering scientist Adrian Melott says his curiosity stems from the chemistry lab he was allowed as a child in his Moundsville, WV home.
Credit Jean Snedegar

During his distinguished career, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Adrian Melott has been a pioneer in two completely different fields of space science – and he credits his focus and curiosity in large part to his grandfather who read a lot about science, and his father, a machinist who allowed him “free reign” in a chemistry lab in the family basement.

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9:24 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Gupta Named W.Va. Chief Health Officer

Dr. Rahul Gupta.
Credit Kanawha Charleston Health Department

The state Bureau for Public Health will have a new chief beginning January 1 after a trying year for its current head.

The Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling announced in a press release Thursday Dr. Letitia Tierney will resign as the state’s chief Public Health Officer at the end of the year. Current Kanawha-Charleston Executive Director Dr. Rahul Gupta will take over as Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

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An Inspiring West Virginian
4:09 pm
Sun November 30, 2014

Clinical Pharmacologist Left Duke to Conduct World-Class Research at WVU

Clinical Pharmacologist Bill Petros of Wheeling left Duke University and its leading cancer center to return to WV to continue his work.

Not many pharmacists do cutting edge research in developing new drugs, and how drugs affect different patients differently.

But 53-year-old clinical pharmacologist Bill Petros of Wheeling, WV studies how cancer drugs react differently from one patient to the next.

For more than a decade Bill Petros led his own research lab at Duke University Cancer Center, one of the top cancer research centers in the United States. 

Then he got a call from West Virginia University, and was thrilled to return home.

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Medicaid implementing restrictions
3:56 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

New Drug Can Cure Hepatitis C – If Only We Could Afford It

Gilead Sciences has produced a curative drug for Hepatitis C, costing $1000 a pill.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The pill is called Sovaldi and it’s profoundly changing outcomes for Hepatitis C patients.

Just 5 years ago the cure rate for most patients in the US was about 50%. Now with Sovaldi, made by Gilead Sciences Inc. of California and approved by the FDA last December, the latest Hep C regimen is making therapy shorter, more tolerable, and the cure rate is reaching 95-100 %.

That’s significant for West Virginia, which has the second highest prevalence of Hepatitis C in the country.

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Black Lung
2:11 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Rockefeller Introduces Black Lung Legislation

Credit Department of Labor

Senator Jay Rockefeller co-sponsored legislation to address barriers and delays miners face when seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Program.

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6:58 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Are Flooded Mines Polluting Water?

A long-awaited environmental impact report concludes that concentrations of iron and sulfate collecting in underground pools could pollute the Potomac River and its surrounding groundwater.

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12:52 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

McKinley Named Vice Chair of Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight Subcommittee

David McKinley, member of US House of Representatives, March 2012
Credit United States Congress

Republican Congressman David McKinley has been named vice chair of an Energy and Commerce Committee oversight subcommittee.

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10:34 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Blankenship Ordered to Appear for Arraignment, Gag Order Set

Credit Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A federal Magistrate has denied former Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s request to delay arraignment proceedings.

According to court records, Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort denied Blankenship’s request to postpone his initial court appearance. VanDervort ordered Blankenship to appear in court, surrender his passport, prepare to meet and discuss his financial circumstances, and other actions to prepare for court proceedings.

The former Massey CEO  is set to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday. The former leader of what was once one of the largest coal producers in the country Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office on two mine safety charges, lying to the securities and exchange commission and securities fraud.

The decision to proceed this week with his arraignment comes days after the judge presiding over Blankenship’s criminal case issued a gag order for the parties involved.

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Public Health
12:03 am
Fri November 14, 2014

WVU Public Health Dialogue: Does Being Poor Mean Being Sick?

Professor of Family and Community Medicine, and Director of the Center of Social Disparities and Health and the University of California, San Fransisco, Paula Braveman. She’s been studying and publishing extensively on health equity and the social determinants of health for over 25 years.
Credit UCSF

Stress. We all live with it, but at what point does it become toxic? When do social pressures turn from a healthy challenge to a source of poison? These are some of the ideas turned over in a public health dialogue at West Virginia University last week that explored the "social determinants of health." Guest-speaker Dr. Paula Braveman spoke about how social factors in our lives play a role in our health.

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