Fault Lines travels to West Virginia following a catastrophic chemical spill to examine the state’s complex relationship with the coal industry—and its impact on public health and the local environment.
In January, a chemical used to clean coal spilled into the Elk River, which runs through the middle of West Virginia, contaminating the state’s primary water supply. Suddenly, 300,000 people were left without water for drinking, washing, or bathing.
While the crisis made national headlines, the spill was not an isolated incident. Coal mining has been poisoning rural West Virginia residents' water for years with little attention paid to various accidents and their consequences. After all, this is one of the poorest regions of the country, and it is economically dependent on a single extractive industry.
The people of West Virginia are both wedded to and at the mercy of coal, and the industry’s deep pockets regularly influence politicians to fight against environmental regulation that could benefit the health of their constituents.
Fault Lines heads to coal country to see how West Virginia’s main industry impacts its most precious resource.
Executive Producer: Mathieu Skene, Senior Producer: Reem Akkad @reemakkad, Correspondent: Josh Rushing @joshrushing, Director of Photography: Omar Mullick @cerulean_blue, Producer: Kavitha Chekuru @kavichek, Associate Producer: Nicole Salazar @nicoleasalazar, Additional photography: Nicole Salazar, Joel Van Haren @joelvanharen, Paul Abowd, Editor: Jennifer Beman @jbwpost, Written by: Jennifer Beman, Mat Skene, Senior Digital Producer: Kristen Taylor @kthread, Associate Digital Producer: Danielle Powell @daniellejenene, Transcription assistance: Melissa Etehad @melissaetehad, Zahra Rasool @RXahra, Aerial flight provided courtesy of SouthWings aviation @SouthWings,
More from this Episode
Pro-coal rhetoric has been as loud as ever in campaigning ahead of primary elections
More on Coal in W. Virginia
Residents have warned about coal-cleaning chemicals for years. Will feds finally investigate state agencies?
As tap-water restrictions continue for 300,000 residents, activists say there's nothing new about chemical-laden water