[Marxism] Freedom to pollute
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 17 11:48:30 MST 2014
By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest
Recent news reports out of West Virginia sound like they were written as
part of a parody of modern business: the company responsible for a
chemical leak that contaminated the water supply of hundreds of
thousands of people is named Freedom Industries and was cofounded by a
two-time convicted felon.
The situation, however, is far from a joke. Freedom Industries spilled a
substantial quantity of a substance called 4, methylcyclohexane methanol
(MCHM) into the Elk River near the intake valve for a water treatment
plant serving the Charleston area, sending more than 150 people to the
hospital and forcing residents to use bottled water for drinking,
cooking and bathing. The plume is now heading toward Cincinnati.
As is all too common in such incidents, it turns out that the
75-year-old facility where the rupture took place had not been visited
by government inspectors for more than 20 years. In fact, as a storage
rather than a production facility, it was subject to little in the way
of federal or state oversight. So much for the idea of regulatory excess.
Given that MCHM is used to process coal, this accident adds to the heavy
toll that mining has taken on West Virginia -- from the Buffalo Creek
flood in 1972 to the Upper Big Branch disaster in 2010 in which 29
miners were killed. It is also significant that Freedom Industries
purchases MCHM, for which it serves as a distributor, from a subsidiary
of Georgia-Pacific, which in turn is controlled by the rabidly
anti-regulation Koch Brothers.
To all this can be added the fact that Freedom Industries was cofounded
by an individual named Carl Lemley Kennedy II. As the Charleston Gazette
has reported, Kennedy filed for personal bankruptcy in 2005 after he was
hit with federal charges of tax evasion and failure to remit employee
withholding taxes. He is reported to have admitted to diverting more
than $1 million that should have gone to the Internal Revenue Service.
Kennedy's involvement in Freedom Industries, the Gazette notes, does not
seem to have been affected by the fact that he had once pleaded guilty
to selling cocaine in connection with a scandal that involved the mayor
of Charleston. The paper quotes the current mayor, who is said to have
known Kennedy since the 1980s, as an "edgy guy."
Another remarkable aspect of the story reported by the Gazette is that
Freedom Industries was struggling in 2009, and its Elk River facility
was able to go on functioning only after the Army Corps of Engineers
dredged that portion of the river using federal stimulus funds.
To summarize: a tax evader and drug dealer helped to establish a largely
unregulated chemical company that benefitted from the federal stimulus
but apparently did little in the way of preventive maintenance and set
the stage for large-scale drinking water contamination.
Large corporations such as Dow Chemical and Exxon Mobil have caused vast
amounts of environmental damage, but it shouldn't be forgotten that
small-time operators such as Freedom Industries can also do substantial
harm. And it is not just producers of hazardous materials but also
distributors that can be the culprits. It was another small distributor,
West Fertilizer, that was involved in the ammonium nitrate explosion in
Texas last April that killed 15 people. Much of the reporting in the
wake of that event, particularly with respect to holes in the regulatory
system, could have been recycled for the new West Virginia accident.
As long as the illusion of regulation is perpetuated in place of the
real thing, these accidents will continue to happen, and the right to
pollute will trump the right to be safe from pollution.
More information about the Marxism