New River Valley residents concerned over toxic chemicals dumped in the New River

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    Cross-posted from Article XI.

    Something doesn’t smell (or taste) right, and it may just be your drinking water if you live in the New River Valley in Virginia.

    Several residents of the area alongside grassroots community organizations have been concerned with the amount of toxic chemicals being dumped into the New River, a body of water which delivers thousands of area residents their drinking water.

    So far, state and federal regulatory bodies have not raised any extreme red flags that might considerably dampen the confidence of area residents in the safety of the New River’s water for purification and consumption.

    There appears, however, to be some troubling markers of the effects of toxic chemicals on the residents of the New River Valley and the rest of the country.

    Cancer rates in the Valley are high relative to the rest of Virginia and other illnesses with mysterious causes seem to pop up on an unusually regular basis.

    Furthermore, with an adult functional illiteracy rate of around 35% (contact me for this source if interested), it is not an unforeseen environmental phenomenon that hazardous waste sites are built in areas where residents are relatively politically impotent. That is, if you knew your company was going to produce massive quantities of toxic chemicals, why not locate your toxic waste dumping facilities someplace where resident push-back will be minimized?

    This kind of cynical logic is in many ways a completely rational business strategy, one established and promoted to cut costs and increase profits, a game plan that General Eisenhower tried to warn us about decades ago.

    Unfortunately for the residents of the New River Valley, not only do these individuals not have a share in the profits being made by companies who pollute, they do get a share of the life altering and deadly affects of the chemicals these individuals in the Valley end up consuming. Of course, no remediation is offered because the culprit is unknown.

    For anyone who might think this is a remote issue that only concerns small-town or rural Americans, they should look a little deeper at their own bodies of water that is eventually consumed.

    The injustices being perpetrated in the New River Valley, however, are admittedly unique. They represent an obscene abuse of corporate, state, and federal power and a cynical willingness to exploit the peoples of Appalachia.  

    Americans and Virginians in particular, should not be pawns of America’s military industrial complex. The health and welfare of our people should not be forfeited for greater profits. All of the military victories in the world cannot buy back the faith the American people have in the integrity of their government.

    • Isaac Sarver

      and would be quite interested to know where that 35% statistic comes from. Frankly, I find the insinuation that these communities are less able (intellectually) to push back against these plants a little insulting.

      For what it’s worth (and to back up my suspicion about the rate of illiteracy), this newspaper article from last November references a population of 14,000 functionally functionally illiterate 8%  residents of the NRV. The last census population estimate in 2009 pegged population in the region at 151,272. Using those figures, you get a rate of 9%.

      That being said, there are several local citizen groups who advocate for cleaning up our stretch of the New River and monitoring its health, actions which there is popular support for locally.

      Sources:

      http://www.roanoke.com/news/nr

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B