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West Virginia Chemical Spill Shows Need for Toxics Reform

(202) 939-9141
For Immediate Release: 
Monday, January 13, 2014

Washington, D.C. – EWG executive director Heather White assigned much of the blame for the devastating chemical spill in West Virginia to the nation’s lax chemical safety laws.

“The Elk River chemical spill has been disastrous for hundreds of thousands of people,” White said.  “It highlights how this nation’s entire chemical safety regime is broken from top to bottom, from the time chemicals come on the market with little to no testing, right through the entire lifecycle of the substance.”

The public has little or no information about the health effects of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, the chemical involved in the spill. It is one of 62,000 chemicals presumed to be safe by the federal law implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency, with little or no safety testing. 

“Chemical safety laws intended to protect us are instead giving priority to the interests of chemical companies and manufacturers," White said. “The real surprise is that disasters like this don’t happen more often.”