This Day In 1936: The Hawks Nest Tunnel


marcdcatlin

On July 9, 1936, the electric power plant at Union Carbide’s metallurgical plant in Alloy, West Virginia, went into operation.

The power at the Fayette County plant was generated by water, which flowed through the man-made Hawks Nest Tunnel, writes West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Most of the tunnel’s construction had occurred between 1930 and 1932.

It was primarily by black laborers from the South.

The men had drilled and blasted through sandstone in confined spaces that were poorly ventilated and lacking in dust control or breathing protection.

Before the project was finished, they began dying of silicosis, a progressive fibrosis of the lungs caused by inhaling pulverized silica dioxide.

Union Carbide officials understood the potential dangers, states West Virginia Public Broadcasting.  They had expanded the project specifically to mine additional silica.  Hearings conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936 attributed 476 deaths to work on the tunnel. A study published in the 1980s indicated that as many as 764 men may have perished. By either count, the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster is one of the worst industrial tragedies in U.S. history.

Republican Bill In West Virginia House Would Make It Criminal To Enforce The Affordable Care Act in The State

House Chamber

According to wvgazette.com, some Republicans in West Virginia’s House of Delegates want to make it illegal for federal and state officials to enforce the ACA health-care law (Obamacare).

Under the GOP-backed bill (HB2509), federal employees would face felony charges if they try to administer any federal regulations under the Affordable Care Act.  Oddly, state workers would only be arrested for a misdemeanor.

The bill itself is possibly illegal and would jeopardize health insurance for many West Virginians.

The piece of legislation also states that the federal health-care law is “invalid” in West Virginia.

“It’s one thing to oppose the Affordable Care Act, but it’s another thing to make it a criminal act for people to do their job,” said Perry Bryant, who heads West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

“This is really an extreme piece of legislation, as extreme as anything I’ve seen this session.”

More:

http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150224/GZ01/150229623#sthash.izwwaEw9.dpuf

Md. Lawmakers Call For Crude Oil Train Shipment Risk Assessment, More Railroad Transparency

Maryland lawmakers concerned about increasingly common rail shipments of crude oil through Maryland are calling for the state to conduct a full assessment of the risks and for railroads to be more transparent about their operations, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Norfolk-Southern train transporting crude oil

CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern bring train shipments of crude oil into Maryland, including to a barge terminal in South Baltimore’s Fairfield area and through Cecil County on the way to refineries in Delaware.

Legislation filed last week in Annapolis, Md. would require the state’s health and environment departments to establish statewide accident prevention, emergency response and contingency plans in the case of a major railroad disaster involving crude oil. It also would require both railroads to disclose more information about their crude shipments to the public.

Recently, a recent derailment of a CSX crude oil train during a snowstorm in West Virginia burned one home to the ground, forced hundreds of others to be evacuated, shuttered water treatment plants and sparked concern about pollution to the nearby Kanawha River, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Under a federal law that took effect in May, railroads are required to disclose to local jurisdictions the volumes, routes and frequency of all Bakken crude-oil shipments that are more than 1 million gallons.  However, in the past, much of that information has been unavailable to the public in Maryland.

Ebola Hysteria? West Virginia Hospital Goes On Lockdown During False Ebola Scare

Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia has released more information regarding the emergency room lockdown Saturday evening.

According to a press release, the female patient who presented to the hospital does not have Ebola or any other communicable illness.

After a thorough investigation and in consultation with public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control, it was verified that the patient had not traveled abroad since June 2014 and has never been in any regions where Ebola is a threat.

According to the CBS affiliate wowktv.com: “The patient presented with flu-like symptoms and reported having returned to the U.S. approximately 6 weeks ago from Nigeria. Although 6 weeks is outside the incubation period for an Ebola infection, appropriate precautions were implemented. The patient was not a direct medical care provider and had no confirmed exposure to an Ebola patient.”

The patient suffered from a minor illness and no public risk was identified.