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This post was written by my colleague, Michael Grenetz, SierraRise Director.

Dr. Rahul Gupta won't let his children drink their tap water anymore -- he's too afraid of the toxic chemicals. As Chief Medical Officer for Charleston, WV, he knows that, despite what the state claims, the crisis is far from over.

On January 9, Freedom Industries, a largely unregulated chemical-storage company for Big Coal, spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Elk River. Even worse, they did not immediately notify local emergency responders, even though 300,000 people rely on the river for their drinking water.

Hundreds of residents -- including infants -- flooded emergency rooms for nausea, vomiting, and rashes. Thousands more were forced to wait in frigid temperatures for emergency bottled water.

One month in, Governor Tomblin of West Virginia still has his head in the sand -- and just last week, a second spill  happened at Freedom Industries. This situation is spiraling out of control.

Governor Tomblin opposes new standards despite years of chemical spills. Let's turn up the heat and send the governor 50,000 messages by Monday!

Thousands of West Virginians are demanding answers -- stand with them! Tell Governor Tomblin: It's time to protect the water and people of West Virginia, not Big Coal!

(More after the jump)

It is hard to imagine that there is somewhere in the U.S. where Americans live in fear of their water -- but since the spill, that has been the reality for Rahul and his neighbors.

Before the leak was announced, Kimberly Elliot used her tap water to bath and make formula for Justin, her 7-month old baby. Then, despite being ill herself, the young mother had to rush her sick baby to the hospital. Giving voice to the frustration his community feels, Danny Jones, the mayor of Charleston, said "You can't imagine what it's like to function like this, or not function like this."

The eyes of the nation are watching, and Governor Tomblin needs to know that, like his people's health, his national reputation is at stake. Big coal and the chemical companies that support it must be stopped from ever poisoning people again -- whether in West Virginia or anywhere else.

Tell Governor Tomblin: It's time to step up and do your job. Protect the people of West Virginia!

In it together,

Michael Grenetz
SierraRise Director

Originally posted to ForestEthics - Because protecting forests is everyone's business on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:13 PM PST.

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