Erin Brockovich from MetroNews 'Hotline'

Erin Brockovich, an environmental activist, was in Charleston Monday night to lead a town hall meeting focused on the chemical spill.
Photo by Jeff Jenkins
Erin Brockovich, an environmental activist, was in Charleston Monday night to lead a town hall meeting focused on the chemical spill.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Activist Erin Brockovich, whose involvement in a case alleging contaminated drinking water in a California town was depicted in a movie starring Julia Roberts, says West Virginians deserve answers to their questions about a recent chemical spill.

“They are cautiously watching what’s happening and asking really good questions and, I think, they’re being proactive,” said Brockovich on Monday’s MetroNews “Hotline.”

Brockovich lead a town hall meeting in Charleston on Monday night after, she said, about 5,000 West Virginians reached out to her through her website, www.brockovich.com, while a do-not-use water order continued for upwards of 300,000 people.

Those people are customers of West Virginia American Water Company in parts of nine West Virginia counties and, since last Thursday, they’ve been instructed to only use the water coming into their homes and businesses to flush toilets because of concerns about possible contamination.

An estimated 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM, made up primarily of 4-methylcylohexane methane, leaked from a storage tank at Freedom Industries along the Elk River in Charleston back on Thursday.

Officials with state government, the West Virginia National Guard and WVAW have spent the time since the spill trying to determine the possible effects the chemical, which is used in coal preparation, could have on health, while also monitoring its dilution in the water.

Brockovich said this case is similar to many of the cases she has dealt with before now in that, she says, she thinks profits were put ahead of safety and that lead to the chemical leak that eventually made its way into the water supply.

“We have got to start changing the way we do business….It cannot be this way anymore because we are all paying the price,” said Brockovich.  “I think we’ve become way laissaz faire about our safety.”

On Monday, the do-not-use water orders started being lifted by zones.

The area near the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant, largely the heart of Charleston, was the first where residents were given the go-ahead to flush their plumbing systems.  After flushing was completed, WVAW and state officials said they believed the water would be safe for laundry, cooking, bathing and drinking.

A team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board was scheduled to arrive in Charleston on Monday to launch an investigation into the spill.

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Comments

  • goodgrief

    Anyone see the video of your poisoned water being lit and set on fire in a glass? Want to drink it now? Want to say how silly this all is now?

    Yeah, I didn't think so.

    • WVeer

      I believe that you're referring to the tracking movie where they were lighting tap water on fire!? If so, that was debunked, because the location of that video shoot was in PA/NY area where naturally occurring methane has bubbled up through the water since the 1800's. Gasland showed flaming water, Fracknation debunked it.

      • Jason412

        I believe he's talking about this
        http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/01/watch-west-virginia-man-set-tap-water-fire-after-local-chemical-spill/356920/#disqus_thread

        Supposed to be a video of a guy in Charleston lighting his water on fire, who knows if it's a hoax but it's certainly not the same clip from Gasland.

        Pretty interesting. I had heard nothing about this until I seen that post and googled "wv water on fire" thats the first thing that came up

        • Jason412

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsReDuI7cC8

          There's the direct link to the guy in Charleston supposedly lighting his tap water on fire.

          Most are saying it's faked because the way the video was shot, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else had tried it and got a video.

          • Larry

            I watched that, definitely fake, guy doesn't show his face, runs water out of a tap, glass disappears, then comes back with a glass of rubbing alcohol and lights it.

          • Jason412

            While I agree the video is sketchy at best, what does showing your face have to do with it? I certainly wouldn't put my face on youtube. His wife has her full name and picture on there and she seems to be the one that uploaded it.

            If he had turned the camera to show his face people would be saying that's when he swapped it out.

            I'm not saying it's real by any means, but not showing your face while filming with a phone is hardly damning evidence of fraud.

          • Jason412

            Also, responding to your other post, saying "all videos are of alcohol" the one from Gasland was methane gas coming from the faucet. While the methane may of been there long before fracking, it still was water from a faucet catching on fire.

          • Larry

            The one from the gasland movie was also fake, and the reason you wouldn't show your face is that a person in whatever state he lives in would see it and say, hey he doesnt't even live in WV. Believe it or not, water isn't flammable.

          • Jason412

            No, the one from Gasland was not fake. It was misrepresented as being a direct result of fracking but how would they get alcohol to pour out of their faucet? It wasn't in a glass, it was straight out of the faucet.

            Even the gas companies said it was real but the methane had been there long before fracking

            This article shows a newspaper clipping from 1973 about lighting the water on fire. These are articles AGAINST Gasland, and they're saying it was real but not a result of fracking.

            Clearly pure water isn't flammable, but the methane coming out of the faucet with the water is absolutely flammable.

          • Jason412

            No, the one from Gasland was not fake. It was misrepresented as being a direct result of fracking but how would they get alcohol to pour out of their faucet? It wasn't in a glass, it was straight out of the faucet.

            Even the gas companies said it was real but the methane had been there long before fracking

            http:// news .heartland.org/newspaper-article/2011/08/01/gasland-producer-misled-viewers-lighted-tap-water (Take spaces out it moderated me)
            "Water flammable before Fracking"

            http:// energyindepth.org/marcellus/extinquishing-the-flaming-faucet-exploding-the-myth/ (take spaces out)
            This one shows a newspaper clipping from 1973 about lighting the water on fire. These are articles AGAINST Gasland, and they're saying it was real but not a result of fracking.

            Clearly pure water isn't flammable, but the methane coming out of the faucet with the water is absolutely flammable.

            Believe it or not a lot of people can light their faucet on fire and I trust 40+ years of newspaper articles on it over a post on metronews.

          • Larry

            For everyone that believes the "burning water" video, I feel sorry for your friends, family, and any co-workers you may have, and anyone else you may come in contact with.

          • Jason412

            Ignorance is bliss. I guess you'd rather spout your mouth off then look it up yourself or read any of the articles I just linked. I can find about 40 more type in "Gasland fire myth" and read the sites FROM THE GAS COMPANIES that say it 100% was real but not a result of fracking.

            I feel sorry for someone who thinks they know everything and refuses to learn. I hope you don't have any kids bringing down our school system.

            If you prove me wrong, I'll listen. Go ahead and do it, I am open to hearing other opinions and LEARNING on a daily basis I don't think I know everything about the world but its hard to dispute 40 years of newspaper articles from different newspapers.

          • Jason412

            I can't believe Metronews approved my post that was "Waiting for moderation" and edited the hell out of it.

            Metronews for future reference please just reject it instead of changing my words.

      • chris

        you are very wrong the fracking is causing peoples tap to ignite

      • chris

        you are very wrong the fracking is causing peoples tap to ignite anyone that cant see how bad fracking really is really needs to study up some more

    • Larry

      All videos you see of someone supposedly lighting water on fire are fake, it's alcohol.

      • liberty4all

        You said water isn't flammable. Not a science guy myself, but wondering, wasn't one of the great lakes on fire in Cleveland many years ago?

        • Larry

          No, I think there was a river there where an oild spill or something happened, and supposedly some of the oil burned, water is heavier than oil, but no, water is not flammable, and there is no way that such a small amount of this chemical in the water would result in the water "burning", and for that matter, that guy could have had a tank of alcohol connected to that sink, it looks like an old spare sink in someones outbuilding. Notice how the liquid just barely trickles out.

          • Jason412

            Ok Larry I guess if not only do you not believe both sides of the gas industry saying it was true and over 40 years of newspaper articles with headlines like "Alberta tap water catches on fire" from 1973 then there is no convincing you.

          • Larry

            Jason, I'll believe it when I can go to this house, check the lines, and this guy does it again. If there were any gases present, as soon as he runs it into the glass they would dissipate in the air, I will guarantee you that video is fake, he could also have that old sink connected to a jug of rubbing alcohol, notice how it just barely trickles out, it's not real.

          • The bookman

            Larry,

            Jason is correct. Methane can migrate into water wells. It can exist in solution at levels that can be flammable. The video from Gasland was real, but willfully misrepresented.
            What is now being shown may be real, or may be fake, but either way is not a flammable sample of water originating from the Elk River.

          • Larry

            From an article in Scientific American. If anyone wants to argue that whatever amount ended up in the water supply was "concentrated", then I really do feel sorry for you.

            "MCMH can burn but only when concentrated and at relatively high temperatures above 112 degrees Celsius. It is not explosive".

          • Jason412

            Larry I NEVER said I thought the Charleston video was real. In fact I kept saying how I DIDNT think it was real.

            I do however KNOW the Gasland video was real, it was just misrepresented.

            I make a post saying the Gasland video is real you say you feel sorry for my family and now it shows you obviously didn't even read the post because you thought I was talking about the Charleston video

          • Larry

            Jason, I was referring to the one that was supposedly in WV, and I wasn't referring to you in particular. I would also like to add that I don't believe sugar makes kids hyper, that the picture of the 15' rattlesnake killed "wherever" is real, or that fingernail polish "kills" chiggers.

          • Larry

            What I'm saying is, I'm against myth propagation.

      • thornton

        Naturally occurring gas is a fact and could be within a water supply and could be found in sufficient concentrations to ignite for a spell but, it has nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing. It has more to do with misrepresentation and a stab at some cash or attention.

        Gasland itself,. was artfully-created to enflame.

        I'm guessing that the air behind a closed door session of the legislature might well be flammable....those folks are full of gas.

        I never saw the Brockovitch movie...did it involve a race of super apes hidden in a Brazillian rain forest for eons?

        • Hollowhunter

          Should have figured you would respond with your know it all replies. Your so smart you should run for a political office. FULL OF THE SAME BS .

    • Wowbagger

      I know at least one hand dug well near Petersburg on the south branch river that might date to before the civil war with a gas problem. It kept catching on fire and finally had to be filled in.

      There are water wells in the Colorado Rockies with so much naturally occurring radon that it bubbles out at the well head. The answer, just run the radon water into the top of a tank, allow the radon to bubble away and pump the otherwise good water out of the bottom of the tank.

    • Desperate

      that was fake.....the chemical burns only when highly concentrated and at high temps

  • goodgrief

    I can't believe some of the comments I'm reading. Talk about stabbing yourself in the back. Good grief people, your water was poisoned. Oh wait, I guess you're happy with the five dollars off this months water bill that American Water is giving to you. Typical ignorance...yet again.

    • BS

      You obviously are a left wing hysteria inciting illogical moron. You have no scientific background and have no clue how things work in the real world. My guess you are either a HS/college drop out....or a lawyer

  • goodgrief

    It is not only used for coal preparation, it's also used for steel and a few other things. Why is only coal being mentioned in every single article?

  • wvman75

    She had bigger boobies in the movie, and it WAS Julia Roberts. The real actress was the knot head pushing an environmental
    agenda that's bad for our state. Go Mountaineers!

    • Tracie

      what environmental agenda? clean drinking water for your residents? not having to worry about putting a child in the bath and getting burned? making a company accountable for their screw up? that plant hasnt been inspected for over 20 years, and you're ok with that?

      • Plopaganda

        Don't you know that none of that matters just as long as some non-West Virginian is making money off our state? Gosh, what country do you think this is?

        • Larry

          I will have to say that it's kind of funny that the head men of the two main players in this are a South African, and a Canadian.

    • Allison

      Complete ignorance! You fools who are fine with the profit-mongering going on in and around WV at the expense of the health of human beings are either working for the industry, making money off the industry or too dumb to know the difference.

      • WhataboutBob

        you can shoot these people in the foot and they LIKE it

    • peedink

      sounds to me like you are one of the people that are fracking and distrying wv

  • Suzanne

    Erin B. has worked tirelessly to advocate for victims who were victimized by greedy, negligent companies who put their bottom dollar over public safety. This company deserves no sympathy from ANYONE!!! I hope they are sued until there is nothing left of them for what they have done to WV!! For the one who said "everyone doesn't need a check" - perhaps you should speak to some of those who are still hospitalized. If a doctor gets paid for what he does best, and if a lawyer gets paid for what he does best, then a victim's advocate should be paid for what she does best. Period!!!

    • Shelly

      HARDLY
      Daily mail UK:
      "the number of people diagnosed with cancer in the ­Hinkley area between 1996 and 2008 was not only not excessive, but was lower than would normally be expected for a town of its size — 196 cancer cases over the 12-year period of the study, when the statistical expectation for the region was 224."

      "It would be difficult to imagine a more damning assessment of Erin Brokovich’s crusade in Hinkley, a crusade for which she was handsomely rewarded. Brokovich got a $2.5 million (more than £1.5 million) bonus for her work."

  • Kay

    Sadly, these comments are proof of who votes in this state, and why we have so many problems like this around here. You are the reason everyone thinks West Virginians are uneducated and neive. You guys are living, breathing stereotypes.

    • John

      While I agree with you, it's best to properly spell "naive" when criticizing others and suggesting that others are "uneducated" because of what they write.

  • Shadow

    Everyone seeks their fifteen minutes of fame. Erin is trying to keep hers going longer and pay the bills.

    • Diane

      You're either kidding or stupid! Do you realize the short and long term affects of these chemicals? Obviously not!

      • Mimi

        Diane, I'm with you!

      • Shadow

        Would you give me a valid scientific source for your assertions. From what I have seen, it has not made any hazardous lists until now. Please read Erin's bio on Wiki. She was a shill for the lawyers.

        • Amy

          Anyone with any common sense knows that Wiki is not a valid source for any information.

          • Jason412

            You ask for a "valid scientific source" then reference Wikipedia as your source of information. It's best not to use a site that you can personally edit the information on as a reference.

            In the time I took to write this post I could edit Wikipedia to say MCHM is the most toxic chemical in the world.

            Not saying it is that toxic, or Erin Brockovich isn't just here to grandstand, just pointing out the irony of referencing wikipedia after asking for a valid scientific source of information.

          • Shadow

            Wiki or the Internet It is not a valid source of information when your mind is made up from a movie. The data on the settlement I had read before so it was not the only source. As to the spilled chemical, I have not see a comment when it is listed as being extremely dangerous like arsenic. Erin is a Grandstander and makes her living that way. Which is OK if you can do it and get away with it.

      • Shelly

        Which are?

    • Wowbagger

      Bingo!

      I know a geologist in California who has had to deal with her. She is just working far afield because it looks like there is a buck to be made here.

  • WVeer

    We have enough lawyers in this city to choke Godzilla! Tell EB to head back home to Cali and exploit her native people. Bad things happen. Companies screw up and sometimes they try to skate by. When they get caught--- punish them. However, everyone in the county doesn't need a check! I hate this as much as anyone else, but EB and all of the trial lawyers can jump in the (previously polluted) river for all I care. Justice my butt. It's about the cash!

    • Mimi

      Some people who live elsewhere, do care about the well being of others dealing with and suffering from negligence.

  • Holly

    I believe Charleston needs a voice and pure water. The comments before mine are wastefull and show no love for people. JESUS LOVE

  • thornton

    I like her hat......besides that, the note about California is apt.

  • Ray

    Ignorance is bliss in the mountain state. Reading these statements is certainly proof of that. Something as basic as your water supply has been poisoned and as usual you want to shoot the messenger. Let the lawyers begin their craft.

    • Jeff Reed

      Amen

    • pam45

      West Virginians deserve what they get because they don't believe they deserve better. The comments here illustrate my point. Your water supply has been poisoned and instead of getting angry at the polluter you get angry at EB and her investigators. I hope you realize this makes no sense.

      • Kel

        "West Virginians deserve what they get" what a callus statement. No one deserves this. I lived in Charleston WV for 6 years in the 90's and I know all the people I still keep in touch with are sick over this. Regardless of whether or not Erin Brockovich(sp) is the answer, an investigation is needed and the people of WV or any other state, city or country for that matter don't deserve to have anything contaminated. People live where they grew up, settled, and have to...... it is the responsibility of the corporations to make sure what they are doing and their processes are safe. I pray for my family and friends still living in Charleston. Instead of attacking the people of WV who stated their opinions on this site try to maybe see their point of view and guide them. People have been investigating the many chemical plants that line WV for years and nothing ever changes maybe that is where they are coming from.

      • Jim

        I am angry at the polluter. But I am also angry at the inspectors who were suppose to be inspecting this facility. Where are the records that they had been there to inspect this site. I think the officials in WV have overlooked this site and let them go about the daily activities without any inspections. I want to know when they were last checked out by the officials. I think they are to blame as well.

    • Bob-B

      Let the lawyer's begin their craft...let's see. The lawyer's all get together and decide to file a class action law suit on behalf of the fine citizens of West Virginia...long story short...they settle out of court for a half of billion dollars...yea!!! Now...each plaintiff gets a $10.00 dollar credit on their next water bill and the lawyers...well...they split up 400 million dollars between themselves. And the fine people of West Virginia can call themselves winners!!! They fought the evil chemical company...and won...sort of....

      • mtmanstan

        You nailed it Bob-B. It amazes me that no one here is "qualified" to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the situation and that she was highly sought after. We need to take advice from California! I'll pass on that!

      • Hillbilly

        EXACTLY!!! If people even get $10 it will surprise me... and the lawyers may get more than that. Most class action lawsuits are just like this.

    • J.R. Skene

      Nicely written, Ray.

    • WhataboutBob

      shoot them in the other foot and they like it even more

  • Jim N Charleston

    Any mention of Erin Brocka whatever her name is is useless without a picture showing how short of a skirt she had on. Like another activist who visited WV, Daryll Hannah, shes 15-20 years past when most would care.

    Im Jim N Miami, FL & happy

    • Curly Joe

      Erin B. is the Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton of bad water. Easy to show up and get the crowd lathered up.

  • Bob-B

    Blame your papa...blame your mama...blame your sister...blame Obama...you West Virginian's will find somebody with deep pockets to blame...you always do!!!

    • Yvonne

      I'd like to see your statistics on the so called law suit happy West Virginians?! How dare you attack us and either know nothing about us or are just a judgmental fool! The future health of our small children are at stake! So you obviously have no children, brain in your head or a heart! Keep your nose is your own business!!

    • Mimi

      I blame Freedom Industries and some officials involved.

  • Bottom feeder

    Just another in the long line of shyster lawyers looking for a quick buck in the judicial hell-hole we are living in.

    • Code Red

      Except she is not a lawyer. And this is only a "judicial hell-hole" if you believe the Chamber of Commerce or the insurance industry.

  • Low Rider

    Trolling for plaintiffs. Go back to California and fix all the problems in that screwed up state.

    • Rodney Hytonen

      LOL, fracking-OWNED West Virginians call CA a "screwed up state ?"

      (and yes, I live here in WV!)

      • Low Rider

        Yes…California. Higher tax rates, higher crime rate, higher unemployment. Buy a 1 bedroom garage apartment for $300k…sounds like a great place to live.

      • Jamir

        Yes, I call Commiefornia a screwed up state.

        • WhataboutBob

          at least they got clean air and water

          • Really

            Really? California has clean air? Come on..

          • BS

            Another idiot that has never been there

          • BS

            Boob that is

      • BS

        Yes I have been to California plenty IT IS REALLY SCREWED UP. I will take West Virginia and the problems it faces ANYDAY over that cesspool called California. What an awful place - just like New York, Maryland...

        I have lived in all those places by the way and am not a native West Virginian either