Globally, there has been a sharp increase in fossil fuel disasters that impact people, water and wildlife. Waterkeeper Alliance responds with swift deployment to the scene. Our goal is to provide thorough documentation (ie. still images, video, water testing, etc.) of environmental impacts and determine whether the response to stop the spill and clean-up the pollution is adequate. If we are unable to gain access to the site, our accelerated distribution of factual information to the news media provides communities and Waterkeeper Alliance lawyers with the data we need to demand reparation and seek full prosecution of the responsible party. The three fundamental drivers causing a dramatic surge in fossil fuel spills are:
(1) Increased number of extreme weather events fueled by climate change that topple oil rigs and cause toxic coal waste to bury homes and kill people.
(2) Weakened or inadequate regulations that result in industry failures to build and maintain spill and leak proof fossil fuel infrastructure.
(3) Old, outdated and failing infrastructure like railways, bridges, tank cars, pipelines, drinking water treatment plants, dams, ports, levees and wastewater treatment facilities.
On February 16, 2015 a CSX oil train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and caused explosions and fires resulting in the evacuation of hundreds of families, suspension of business operations and closure of drinking water intakes due to the spill of crude oil into the Kanawha River. West Virginia Headwaters Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance demanded an end to the secret shipments of highly explosive oil through communities without proper notification of emergency response agencies.
On December 9, 2014 in Bangladesh, a state-owned Padma Oil Company tanker carrying 348,000 liters of furnace oil collided with a cargo ship in the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing rare, threatened and endangered species like the Bengal tiger, Irawaddy dolphin, estuarine crocodile, Indian python and many birds. It is home to the largest mangrove forest in the world which culturally, spiritually and physically supports many surrounding communities. Our Waterkeepers in Bangladesh found barefooted children cleaning up the oil with no protective equipment so we took immediate action targeting the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the World Heritage Center.
On May 1, 2014 a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded, setting the James River on fire which caused a mass emergency evacuation of thousands of people in Lynchburg, Virginia. James Riverkeeper Pat Calvert and Waterkeeper Alliance staff deployed to the scene and collected water samples while keeping Virginians updated on the scope of the disaster.
Fourteen people were buried alive and killed after the largest coal waste spill in Vietnam history in July of 2015. Tons of heavy metal laden coal waste from both mines and power plants flowed into the Ha Long Bay world heritage site. Waterkeeper Alliance partnered with Harvard University and called on the Vietnam Government to end its deadly over reliance on coal and invest in renewable energy to power a cleaner and healthier future.
The largest coal ash spill in NC history by Duke Energy into the Dan River in February of 2014. Several news stories documented Waterkeeper Alliance’s response to this spill and all the toxins found as a result of our water testing; you can read them here, here, here and here. The Dan River spill and ongoing investigation by Waterkeeper Alliance into illegal coal water pollution by Duke Energy at other sites in NC resulted in their criminal conviction for nine clean water act violations.
A January 2014 coal chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 people. Read more about the story here.