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What the people of Virginia can learn from West Virginia’s toxic spill

What the people of Virginia can learn from West Virginia's toxic spill

A toxic spill in West Virginia is causing critics to call legislatures throughout the country to reevaluate regulations placed on factories. These regulations are designed to help decrease the risk of personal injury to those who live around these industries, industries that may use toxic chemicals or produce them as a waste product.

The conversation was prompted by a spill near the Charleston area of West Virginia. The spill occurred at a plant for Freedom Industries, a company known for its ability to blend and distribute various chemicals.

One of the holding tanks within the facility had a hole, leading to a four foot-wide stream of the toxic substance contained within the tank leaking into the nearby Elk River, according to a report by NPR. The substance contaminated the area's drinking water, causing citizens to seek treatment in local hospitals for nausea, vomiting and eye infections.

Lessons for Virginia

Virginia can learn a number of things from neighboring West Virginia's spill.

  • Regulations fail. Reports of the Freedom Industries facilities describe the plant as "decrepit" and note that the facility failed to report the spill in a timely manner, as required within one of its state permits. Critics question not only whether the facility was meeting current regulatory standards but also whether these standards are strict enough to ensure the safety of those living around the facility.
  • Recourse is available. Erin Brockovich has brought attention to the plight of those who are exposed to toxins, and the fact that victims can hold those responsible for the spill accountable for their actions.
  • Those living near the facility are not the only ones injured. Workers in other industries near the plant may also have experienced injures while dealing with the toxin. For example, the leak occurred near a water treatment plant that serves the Charleston area. Workers in this plant may have been exposed to the chemical and possibly received injuries while completing their duties. This type of workplace accident is unique since it was linked to a third-party.

The toxic spill has provided a starting point for change. Whether or not increased regulatory efforts will result remains unknown. Regardless of the potential for change, those who may have been injured in this or a similar accident should be aware that compensation may be available to help cover the cost of treating injuries and lost wages. Contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights and any potential for remedies is protected.

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