Recently something happened that seemed to only seem possible in one of those thrillers by Tom Clancy: poison got into a river from a nearby chemical plant with the vaguely sinister name of Freedom Industries and affected nine counties in West Virginia. Their water supply was cut off: over 300,000 people couldn't brush their teeth, bathe or even cook with the water; since the chemicals, used to clean coal, weren't the kind of pollutant that is killed if you boil the water. It's a nightmare for them ... and it seems to not be getting all the attention it warranted. Not even close to it.
Location Is Everything
If this happened in New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles, it'd be all over the news. We're talking 24-hour coverage, reporters everywhere. Massive relief efforts. Charity concerts with Foo Fighters headlining. Instead, this occurred in a state that many people don't even think about and some don't even realize isn't just the western part of Virginia. So New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his George Washington Bridge situation dominate the news. There's already talk of possible impeachment for the corpulent politician. So the news about people who have been without the most precious thing that is needed, that human beings can't live without, has been relegated to secondary news whenever the media deigns to cover it at all.
You're On Your Own
What this basically means is that these people are left to fend for themselves. Oh, sure. FEMA is making an appearance to help there. FEMA's reputation has been damaged possibly well beyond repair after the whole Hurricane Katrina fiasco. There's only so much that these people can do with bottled water, since there's only a finite amount being sold at stores and other places. It's bad when not even boiling the water can make things OK.
It's Not Getting Better Yet
As of this writing, some people were getting the OK to be able to use their water again, which must have felt like turning on the faucet and seeing liquid gold. That doesn't mean that all is well and good again. For one thing, the poison is now at a different point in the water table; at last report, the chemicals were showing up in Kentucky's water supply on their eventual path to the Mississippi River. But how can the citizens of West Virginia feel safe with the possibility of this happening again looming over them? Also, even if this was a true accident, it has to have given some bad people some bad ideas. This is one of those situations that could lead down a very bad road in the future. Let's hope that this lack of media attention doesn't come back to haunt the nation.