Health & Science

“If it’s good enough to wash coal, it’s good enough to wash me.” That’s a tweet that supposedly went out from the West Virginia Coal Association in response to the Elk River chemical spill. No such remark exists on the association's feed today, but the sentiment sparked reactions from many, including one southern W.Va. health campaign. In the aftermath of the MCHM spill, they’re bringing up questions about certain coal mining practices.

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

The West Virginia Poison Center says calls have not increased since the ban on water use in nine counties affected by Thursday’s chemical leak was lifted in some of those areas.  The majority of residents and businesses affected by the chemical leak remain without clean tap water.

On Monday afternoon, West Virginia American Water began the process of lifting bans on water usage for thousands of West Virginians.

U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration logo

A federal commission found that a mine operator’s failure to notify MSHA and mine rescue teams immediately after an explosion in 2006 was inexcusable. . Twelve miners were killed as a result of the infamous blast also known as the Sago Disaster.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday  that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission overturned a decision by an Administrative Law Judge.  

Jessica Lilly

Residents are pitching in across the state to help out their fellow West Virginians. Churches, schools and even businesses have been collecting items for several days and sending to areas affected by the ban.

As the ban to use water is slowly lifted, several places in Wyoming County are still collecting items like baby wipes, diapers, formula, and of course … water.

"Go without water for a few days and you’ll just how much you miss that water," Charlene Cook said.

U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration logo

The federal mine safety agency says it has finished implementing the 100 regulatory and administrative changes it recommended after West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The changes stem from a March 2012 internal report examining the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration's actions leading up to April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. The agency says all recommendations in the report were implemented by Dec. 31.

C.W Sigman

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says it will investigate a chemical spill in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water supply in nine counties.
 
     Board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said Saturday that the board wants to find out how a leak of such magnitude occurred, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future.
 

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Poison Control Center has received nearly 800 calls from concerned residents since a chemical spilled in the Elk River.
 

As Gov. Tomblin's state of emergency remains in effect, the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management is ask asking residents of the nine affected counties to contact their local emergency management offices for information on available and safe water resources.

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

At least half a dozen lawsuits have been filed over a chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated water supplies.

Major questions remain in the chemical spill from Freedom Industries, Inc. in the contamination of West Virginia American Water supplies across nine counties. West Virginia Public Broadcasting news director Beth Vorhees interviews Mark Glass from Downstream Strategies, Ashton Marra reports on the recent press conference at West Virginia American Water, and Dave Mistich gives a run down of activity on social media.

Stream the audio above to find out the latest from our Charleston news bureau and be sure to follow @wvpublicnews.

West Virginia National Guard

As the National Guard joins Governor Tomblin as well as various county, state, and federal authorities in helping those affected by the state of emergency due a chemical leak and water advisory, we here at West Virginia Public Broadcasting will do our best to keep you informed on water distribution centers and filling stations as they become available.  Below is the most up-to-date list of these centers we have.

WVU

Charleston native and West Virginia University graduate student Scott Cushing is in pursuit of one of the holy grails of energy sourcing: instead of using gasoline, or other fossil fuels with harmful emissions, he aims to use water and the sun to harvest hydrogen gas.

football helmet
wikimedia / mdscottis

The state Board of Education has given final approval to a rule dealing with how high schools handle sports concussions.

The board approved the rule during its monthly meeting this week in Charleston.

“This is a significant step in how we protect all of our athletes from the short- and long-term impact of concussions,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin.

“Now a certified medical professional must clear student athletes before they can get back into practice or play.”

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A waste pit in Fayette County does not meet the minimum pit and impoundment standards. The pit is filled with fracking water and other waste from oil and gas drilling. The state Department of Environmental Protection asked Danny Webb Construction to come up with an acceptable plan for the pit.

Community members have been concerned about the waste site for years.

The pit is used to remove sediments from waste before being injected into the nearby underground injection well in Lochgelly. The permit for the well expired in October 2012 and remains in the renewal process.

A Mercer County man who falsified mandatory mine safety reports while employed at several West Virginia mining operations was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.

Craig Belcher, 37, of Bluefield, W.Va., pleaded guilty in July to providing a false statement, representation and certification in a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) document. 

Belcher’s sentence was handed down Monday by Senior United States District Court Judge David A. Faber in Bluefield.

AllVoices.com

Forty-two miners died in the U.S. in work-related accidents in 2013 according to preliminary data.

That’s up from the 36 miners who died in 2012.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration pointed out that fatalities occurred at a record low for the first three quarters of 2013. During the fourth quarter, six coal miners and nine metal/nonmetal miners died in mining accidents, a significant increase from the same period in 2012.

West Virginia lost six coal miners last year, the most in the country. Kentucky had the most metal/nonmetal mining deaths, with four.

Wikimedia Commons

From the W.Va. Dept. of Military Affairs and Public Safety:

Temperatures are forecasted to plunge well below zero degrees Fahrenheit throughout the state over the next 24 hours, and West Virginians are urged to take precautions. The severe cold and dangerous wind chills bring the threat of hypothermia and frostbite from prolonged exposure. Unsafe efforts to stay warm, meanwhile, can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Experts advise the following:
 

AP

West Virginia ranks second only to New York as the state getting the best deal from Obamacare, according to a new report from the company Evolution Finance.

The report looks at what all 50 states received through the Affordable Care Act. It uses 11 metrics designed to gauge the law’s impact on consumers and each state’s budget.

Rick Haye, Marshall University Communications

West Virginia officials have launched a new online system to help improve reporting by local health departments.

When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.

There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.

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