Corporations Should Pay For Their Own Mistakes.

More than 300,000 West Virginia residents are facing their fifth day of coping with a massive chemical spill, and FEMA is helping state and local agencies ensure that residents have access to safe drinking water. That means tax payers are already covering the cost of the spill, and they could be on the hook for clean up expenses as well. To make matters worse, state environmental officials are now saying that the chemical leak could be substantially worse than first believed. Earlier reports estimated between two and five thousand gallons of a dangerous coal-processing chemical leaked into the Elk River, but now residents are learning that as many as 7,500 gallons might have contaminated their drinking water.

The West Virginian American Water Company says it may be “several days” before residents can use their tap water for anything other than flushing toilets. Many schools and businesses remain closed because of the dangerous spill, and stores can't keep up with the demand for bottled water. The West Virginia chemical spill is a perfect example of why corporations aren't more responsible when dealing with dangerous substances – they keep all the profits, and the public is forced to cover the cost of their screw ups.

Just like those responsible for oil spills, these companies are never forced to pay the true cost of their reckless behavior. Patricia Mason, a 54-year old retired West Virginia resident, said, “It seems like no one watches these companies. They get away with this all the time, and we're the ones who pay for it. We're the ones who are suffering. It's just wrong.” Our nation must enact stricter regulations to govern these toxic chemicals, and we need to enforce the laws we have by holding corporations responsible for the real cost of the damage they do to our environment and our lives.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 10 weeks ago

What else is new? Privatize profits, socialize liability... Seems like basic fairness and common sense that these companies should pay for cleaning up their own messes, but our society isn't based on fairness or common sense... so here we go again. Taxpayers = suckers. - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 10 weeks ago

I wonder just how many chemical plants are located along waterways in the US. They are there, I suppose, largely because of access to barges for shipping. I know of some other plants, probably among many, that are along the Mississippi River that could one day cause massive pollution should they leak like the one in West Virginia.

Just enter Freedom Industries, WV in Google Earth and you can see the plant and all those tanks along the river. It is right on the outskirts of Charleston near the southwestern edge of the airport.

Freedom Industries indeed...freedom from regulations and prosecution..freedom to pollute!

Here's a good picture of the sudsy shore line along the Elk River.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 10 weeks ago

"Randism" can only work if there are no crooks. The "free market" is like believing in Santa Claus. Atlas Shrugged is an adolescent fantasy (i.e.), if the grown-ups would just leave me alone everything would be great.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 10 weeks ago

ckrob -- I like your comparison of randism to an adolescent fantasy. Thanks

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 10 weeks ago

This spill has a couple of underlying themes that have not been mentioned here yet.

Why was this chemical being stored at a water processing plant that has no use for it. Were Massey mines hiding it here?

Massey mines bought a WV supreme court justice. The reasonably progressive senator from WV has stated in the pass he does not want to talk about the coal mining industry in his state. This sitution certainly illustrates why state's rights are a joke. An oligarch can buy a state directly. It is much harder to buy all the sentors in the US congress.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 10 weeks ago


Earlier today you sort of 'chastised' a caller who “vilified” the kRoch bros. Not so long ago you were trying to come up with a new way to pronounce their name because you like Coke. It’s their greed and corruption that enabled them and other Plutocrats to concentrate so much wealth, to monopolize media, to control the message, to corrupt and infiltrate government and bribe/threaten judges/politicians such that they would rule that $$=speech in the first place. Want to amend the constitution? Take back ubiquitous media...otherwise, forget it. $$$ is power, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute corruption is detroying the planet. My house is on the banks of the Ohio, 2 watersheds away from the Elk and if I saw a Koch, or anyone like them, I would be hard pressed to remember my desire to remain peaceful.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 10 weeks ago

How True!!! What if, in 'Home Alone' they never came home?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 10 weeks ago

chuckle8: Well, one of their products was...don't laugh...a water purification chemical.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 10 weeks ago

Palin -- Do you know if the leaking chemical is used in coal processing?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 10 weeks ago

One of the founders of Freedom Industries was a twice convicted evasion..and something relating to looks like he got off by participating in a sting. Although he hasn't been connected with the company since 2005. But now, it looks like he has set up a tax preparation business in Boca Raton, Fl....if this is the same's the same name*. But here's a web site that indicates he is in Charleston, WV with a tax return preparation business.**



Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 10 weeks ago

chuckle8: yes, it is my understanding that it is used for cleaning up coal before the coal is burned...before the coal is used for fuel.

"The chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), is used to wash coal of impurities and spilled from a tank at Freedom Industries into the river. " *

Oh, an ex-girl-friend of the current guy in charge of the company claims that people should go easy on them because she brushed her teeth in that water and she says she is ok. Just wait a few years to see if she has any lesions or cancerous growth on her gums and lips. ;-0


Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 10 weeks ago

The government is all upset about this accident, what about all the disasters intentionally caused by fracking and mountain top removal?

douglas m 9 years 10 weeks ago

I liked when I lived in England no growth hormones no steriods no antibiotics in the meats. When a company pollutes there there isnt a fine (which in reality here is just another cost of doing business). In the U.K. They are shut down. I miss the UK. No place is perfect,

but as long as its about guns gays and abortion its not about GREED.

Until the majority wakes up and votes for people they know are representing their views instead of who had the most tv ads, we are not getting a better place to live for ourselves and our children.

I think voting ourselves by email instead of a system that elects someone that may or may not vote for the majority has a few flaws and/or room for a little error.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 10 weeks ago

Mark: Good comparison! In fact the only difference I can see between the toxic spill verse a toxic fracking injection, is the spill doesn't generate a massive profit. Both contaminate the water supply......Free market madness.....the forces of supply and demand with little or no government control.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 10 weeks ago

sandlewood: I agree, the Koch's have and continue to play a large role in the dismantling of our representative government. Charles and David have set up, developed, and supported the following right-wing think tanks since 1977.... Center for Market Processes, Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, Institute for Justice, Mercatus Center, Citizens for a Sound Economy, and Empower America. That said, I also understand Thom's desire to take the air out of their tires by the move to amend Citizens United.

I've said it before, it's up to we the people to do a legislative intervention on out of control citizens like the Kochs, and you're right, it won't happen until we gain control of the message. The alternative is another French Revolution. I prefer a government intervention.

You're correct, money is power and too much money in the hands of anyone in the 21st century is a risk society can no longer tolerate. In my opinion, taxation would be the quickest, but only a temporary solution, to the Koch's out of control and obsolete behaviour.

ScottFromOz 9 years 10 weeks ago

We have seen the enemey and he is us. Until people stop watching Faux News and until they start demanding that journalists ask politicians straight questions and demand straight answers, we'll all get continually flim-flammed and we have only ourselves to blame.

In a case of art imitating life (or what life SHOULD be like) try watching The Newsroom and start to think about all the issues that even they couldn't cover in a 1 hour weekly show. The politicians, corporations and 1% are getting away with murder and we let it happen by NOT getting out and protesting and calling for political impeachments and recalls.

This is not a new phenomenon. It has been happening and accelerating since Reagan and Thatcher's New Economic Order.

Get active, or get over it.

gjcrackers's picture
gjcrackers 9 years 10 weeks ago



leila's picture
leila 9 years 10 weeks ago

PBS Newshour reported last night that this is the 3rd major spill along this waterway in 5 years and that this plant has not been inspected since the early 1990s. It is said the current owners as well as the former owners knew of the problems which enabled the spill.

As businesses are slowly opening, local and state governments areasking restaurant-goers to give a little extra because servers have been out of work extra days. REALLY? These elected officials should be insisting this company pay for ALL damages including lost income.

As so many have pointed out, though, companies privatize the profits and socialize the risks. Shameful!

humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 9 years 10 weeks ago

As we move from a primitive culture to hopefully a more evolved one we will begin to understand that a corporation would never be allowed to pollute the water ,air or land to make a profit .We can clearly see that the quality of the lives of the very people who own or work for the corporation,s are being irrevocably damaged.What profit is there in that ?

i understand that this is all about short term gain but life has given us the resources to live far longer lives than we now do .If we stop polluting the air ,water and land and stop using chemicals in our food and everything else we could begin to realise our vast potential and find balance with nature but at this time we are all practicing mass suicide ?


Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 9 years 10 weeks ago

Corporations should pay for their own mistakes--AMEN to that!!

If corporations are "people," they should be subject to the same laws and punishments as REAL humans.

The K-RATS on the Supreme Court are obvious intelletual light-weights (an intellectual conservative is an oxymoron--high-level intellect requires flexibility and looking at the big picture and willingness to accept or consider new/opposite ideas/viewpoints), I guess the K-RATS didn't see this coming.

Are corporations going to be allowed immunity as they have enjoyed in the past as the non-human non-liable artifical enitites they really are? But I'm sure the big guns will buy their way out of any conundrum/diseaster they create through their criminal negligence and the REAL humans will pay the price.

walkman56's picture
walkman56 9 years 10 weeks ago

Anyone with half a brain knows that these corporations operate with impugnity. Until we get a corrupt free Congress they will never be held to any set of safety standards and if they are they will just ignore them anyway. Just look at BP,does anyone think the Gulf states are free from that oil spill? They paid people to shut them up. What we need are uprisings like we saw in the 60's against the Viet-Nam war where hundreds of thousands of people protested on a daily basis. We now live in a state of Corporate America with a bought and paid for Congress with no oversight,all compliments of the so-called great Ronald Reagan,worse President than Bush2 and that's bad.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 9 years 10 weeks ago

I m guessing that lawsuits will ensue.

Craig Bush's picture
Craig Bush 9 years 10 weeks ago

EPA is our most important law enforcement agency. It defends the future. Stop the republicans from tearing it down. Corporations that pollute are doing more then robbing a bank. They are stealing the future. We must enact a 3 strikes and your out law. If a corp is guilty of gross pollution more then 3 times they are out of our economy for good. We must declare that access to clean water is an inalienable human right. Begin a new water management plan that works on a regional basis. Buy out the private owned water rights and merge with surrounding municipalities. End the rush of the petrol-chemical corps from buying up our aquifers to use for fracking. If they can own the water we can't litigate for damages.

michaelmoore052's picture
michaelmoore052 9 years 10 weeks ago

Here in southern Arizona we are opposing a proposed open pit copper mine that will eat away the middle of a sub-range of mountains near my home. When I say we, I mean the Pima County Council and the concerned citizens of the communities around here. The mountains are called The Santa Ritas and include some of the most scenic areas of our beautiful state. The EPA is recommending that the Army Corps of Engineers reject the Rosemont Mine (a Canadian company) application for a water permit. Their waste would impact a fragile watershed called Cienega Creek. Water is at a premium here in the desert, as you can imagine, and we have a lot of experience with open pit mines. Enough to know that what is being proposed is untenable and will impact our environment greatly.

The EPA also has veto power over the Army Corps of Engineers and our hopes are that this thing will die in committee, so to speak. But the forces of greed are pervasive and the pollution and degradation that will ensue could indeed go forward, turning a natural treasure into an ugly eyesore and stuff the pockets of evil bad people who will walk away from responsibility and laugh at us all on their way to the bank.

David32's picture
David32 9 years 10 weeks ago

It is important to keep in mind that corporations don't pay fines (or taxes for that matter), their customers pay for everything. Rather than extracting monetary fines a corporate death penalty should be implemented as punishment for wrongdoing. Costs of cleanup of these messes should be borne by the taxpayer. Maybe then we will get off our duffs and stop these irresponsible executives from using methods and practices that are known to be dangerous to our environment. I'll bet a policy of stiff jail sentencing of executives for wrongdoing will get the message across.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 10 weeks ago

I wonder who can buy the best lawyers?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 9 weeks ago

Craig B, I couldn't agree more... except on one point. Three strikes is too many; how about two strikes?! If those hacks haven't learned from one accident of the magnitude North Carolinians have just suffered, we need them put out of business for good, with the forfeiture of all their ill-gotten gains!

The very idea of fossil fuel companies owning aquifers is enough to give me nightmares. - AIW

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 9 weeks ago

Michael, you've got my sympathies. Here in southwestern Oregon another Canadian company (Jordan Cove) is trying to stick us with an LNG exporting facility. I'm about ready to declare war on Canada! - AIW

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Screwed:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a creative thinker and committed small-d democrat. He has dealt with a wide range of topics throughout his life, and this book provides an excellent cross section. The Thom Hartmann Reader will make people both angry and motivated to act."
Dean Baker, economist and author of Plunder and Blunder, False Profits, and Taking Economics Seriously
From Cracking the Code:
"In Cracking the Code, Thom Hartmann, America’s most popular, informed, and articulate progressive talk show host and political analyst, tells us what makes humans vulnerable to unscrupulous propagandists and what we can do about it. It is essential reading for all Americans who are fed up with right-wing extremists manipulating our minds and politics to promote agendas contrary to our core values and interests."
David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World and board chair of YES! magazine