In the wake of the toxic chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia that contaminated the city’s water supply, citizens across the country are wondering if it could happen to them.
Given gaps in our environmental and chemical regulation regime, the answer is a resounding yes. For the past year, I’ve been investigating problems of chemical storage and contamination in Virginia, and this week, the University of Richmond School of Law released a new report authored by me and law student Ryan Murphy, “A Strategy to Protect Virginians from Toxic Chemicals.”
This report is the first comprehensive study of chemical dangers in the Commonwealth and calls for major reforms.
Virginia has a self-image as a pristine, primarily agricultural state but we found that Virginians are subjected to a wide variety of risks from industrial chemicals. The reality is that Virginia ranks worryingly high in the amount of toxic chemical releases into our water and air compared to other states. Two million Virginians live in communities that fail atleast one federal health standard for air pollution. Fish consumption advisories have been issued for nearly all major Virginia waterways due to toxic contamination.
The chemical spill in West Virginia should be a wake-up call for the Commonwealth to address the toxic threats in our own backyard.
We document the industrial ...