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Dunkard v. Deckers Creek

by Taelene Swihart

 Two water ways both running into the Mon-river have a reputation for being polluted. But which one is cleaner and has more wildlife in them? I will be examining this very question. Deckers Creek is located in Morgantown, WV. It supplies water and sewage to the general population and is cleaned out by the Morgantown Utility Board or “MUB” located on Greenbag rd. beside the Mountaineer Mall. Holly Hildreth, the Media Relations coordinator is confident in the cleanliness of the water supplied.

 “We treat the water, and sewage, and it far exceeds state standards” said Hildreth, after asking her her opinion of the cleanliness of the water out of Deckers. She then gave me the water quality report, which is listed on the company website; it stated that most of the goals set by MUB for the maintenance and upkeep of clean water is sufficient enough to be positive that they will meet their goals in the future. The levels of cyanide, alkaline, are within range but there is the chemical arsenic that is about 10 when the goal is set at 0.

This in itself proves that the water standards are improving as far as Deckers Creek goes. The Clean Water Act: Since 1972 the Clean Water Act has been a milestone for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a way to enforce and protect the cleanliness of the drinking water in the US. It protects the water from contaminants from Mining, Power Companies, Waste Disposal from public and private residencies. But their general target is big companies like CONSOL Energy who back in 2009 polluted the Dunkard Creek by discharged pollutants that stretched a total of 30 miles and killed over 20 thousand fish both large and small.

 The company was not only held liable for the breaking of codes out of the Clean Water Act, it now is being sued for the number of fish that were killed. The PA Hunting and Fishing Game Commission is trying to get compensated for the kill. And CONSOL if charged will receive another fine that adds to a whopping the $5.5 mil civil penalty they were already charged with. Some see the Clean Water act as helpful but others, not so much. For example; Representative Rahall is actively trying to change to change the CWA.

He believes that the crackdown from the EPA on companies about the CWA is taking away coal mining jobs that he believes benefits the state but hurts the environment. His secretary gave me numerous web links showing about the CWA and the pollution problem in general. Problems and Solutions: Getting back to Morgantown’s water, Holly Hildreth who I talked to before addressed the problem of pollution, “We have taken measures as far as storm intake, to make it clean as possible. We work with the Deckers creek and try to educate people about pollution.”

 Education could be a solution to a lot of the problem in our area as well as the rest of the US. Hildreth is actively trying to educate people in participating in events like the “Deckers Creek Adventure Day” in order to help the general public understand about contamination and pollution. But what will education do? And how does it enforce people to make the right decision when it comes to polluting. Whether it be dumping hazardous waste or throwing a bag of garbage out of your car window it is all about the end result.

 Take the fish in Dunkard Creek for example; CONSOL admitted to contaminating the water in order to mine and make energy for the general population. But at the same time, the wildlife, along with the fish in the creek, and the fishermen who catch these fish all suffered. Fish and Wildlife: With all the problems in Dunkard Creek with the fish population, it is certain that Deckers Creek has a lot more fish and less contaminates. Joseph Grim, of Davistown, Pa fishes on the Dunkard all the time, he said he didn’t see much of a difference in the number of fish that he caught but he did notice the general appearance of the water to look dirty, and have a green algae film to the top of it.

 The Dunkard is far less clean then Deckers, but they both have their communities trying to keep it clean. For example the “Friends of Deckers Creek” is an organization that strides to keep the creek as clean as possible. When asked what they do to keep up the standards of quality Sarah Veselka said “We monitor the water and biological communities, and help coordinate water remediation projects, especially for acid mine drainage.” She thinks that the quality of water is much better now than it was 20 years ago. And as far as the fish go, she said the population of fish is rising in most of the watershed.

 The United States Department of Agriculture is actively trying to improve the quality of water amongst streams and watersheds in the Appalachians. The restoration is costly according to their website, but it is necessary in order to keep up the ecological standards of the epa. They determine if a stream needs to be restored, then they give grant money in order to restore it. While looking at a report from 2003 Deckers Creek sent a letter to them in order to have them help restore the creek.

According to the report, the creek, wildlife, and basic scenery all improved due to the USDA’s 2 million dollar restoration project; which may be why Deckers is so much cleaner than Dunkard. Conclusion:The water in Dunkard and Deckers are slowly improving and getting back to their original state. It is imperative that people both in Pennsylvania and West Virginia realize how for every cause there is an effect and that what someone does in one state could possibly affect another state in a not-so-positive manner. With this the education of the population is necessary for prevention.

Bringing Toys and Tradition Back to Morgantown

Pinocchio’s Books and Toy Store has been around for over 40-years now, and of those years has only had two owners. The variety of books, toys, and friendly faces are what attracts customers. The current owner Jeanne Hogan has managed the store for 15 and a half years now and has seen a lot of children grown up playing with the toys she sells. “I have adults bring their children into the store because they use to come here as a child” said Hogan. They have found memories of walking into the store, looking at the 6-foot-tall shelves filled with toys of all shapes and sizes.

 Hogan is just one out of 12-15 female business owners in Downtown Morgantown. They are all over the area and help promote each other’s businesses now and again. For example Hogan said that if someone is in her store and cannot find something she will direct them to another store and the other store owner will do the same. Business has been good for her but the good goes along with the bad sometime. “The hardest part about running a business is how it consumes your time. Holidays can be cut short, and it takes a lot of dedication.

 “ The financial aspect of it has to be the worst, Hogan recommends for someone wanting to start a business in Morgantown to consult a lawyer, banker and an accountant just to make sure that you have “reasonable expectations. “ When asked why would you think a women would want to start a business in Morgantown she said “To be more independent, and have the chance to be creative, and understand that it might constrain you but any strong woman would love a chance to be her own boss and have control of every aspect of the business.

 “ It is wise for a new business owner to know his or her business and make sure that everything is in order to help the business succeed so in times of economic trouble they won’t suffer or end up going out of business. Pinocchio’s wasn’t effected much by the 2009 recession, along with the rest of Morgantown it stayed pretty steady but sometimes if a business needs assistance there are grants available to those who ask. And financially, advertising can be a huge help increase sales and improve the chances of a business getting a loan. “There are a lot of advertising and business strategies but I think the best way is word of mouth” said Hogan. She says she has many regular and loyal customers and the events that Main Street Morgantown have bring customers in, and makes her very busy.

 She told me about “Small Business Saturday” which is a lot like the black Friday that larger retailers have the day after thanksgiving. Another exciting business strategy is the launching of her new website http://www.pinocchiosbooksandtoys.com/, which gives her customers an opportunity to browse, she said it is aimed towards those who cannot make it into her store but still want to buy an item. Besides her webpage she has Facebook page as well, under her business’s name, she currently has 136 friends and the page is fairly new. It is filled with pictures, information, store hours, and comments from Hogan and followers. Facebook is another way to get out the word about her store to customers not only from Morgantown but surrounding areas as well. Hogan loves owning her business and cares about her customers.

 “You have to do something you love because owning a store will require a lot of hours.” She values her store, and plans on expanding her store within the next year. She wants to make it more up to date with technology and e-commerce to help her promote her business. She likes to attend toy fairs that have a lot of vendors, and meet and talk to them about new toys and get some ideas for things to sell at her store. These toy fairs are located in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Next summer she is planning on being involved in “Kids Day” where the downtown businesses conduct games, toys, and activity for the local children. According to Morgantown.com the activities consist of learning about safety, playing games, free goodies from area businesses, making crafts, and playing in the giant sand box. They will have PRT RIDES, live entertainment, trolley trips and Pinocchio’s Bookstore are going to make balloon hats for this event.

 Events like this not just keep the kids happy, they help promote the local businesses and help local residents explore downtown. A lot of residents don’t know where some of the shops are, and what they have to offer so it helps when events like this take place. From babies, to Barbies, trucks and trains Pinocchio’s serves every child both young and old. According to Andrew F. “Pinocchio’s Books & Toys located on High Street is a great little shop for the young and young at heart. Even though the quaint home-like store is mainly for children, the store is fun enough to draw in curious college students and adults. Pinocchio’s even carries the “Playmobile” line of toys which are coveted by most youngsters. Go play and have fun.” Like Andrew the tradition of Pinocchio’s lives on and Jeanne Hogan is trying to keep it alive and well. She takes small town business, and turns it into big time profit. With hometown pride, personalization and something you don’t get at big chain toy stores, a family friendly atmosphere.

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Lead Can Be Lethal

by Taelene Swihart

Lead is one of the most toxic pollutants known to man. I say pollutant because that is exactly what a pollutant is. It gets into the air, soil, water and eventually into the bodies of unsuspecting victims who consume or breathe in the toxins. The good news is that over the past 20 or so years the levels have drastically gone down.

Lead in the Soil:

Lead in the earth comes from plumbing leaks that erode into the soil and dissolves into the earth.  Problems associated with lead in the soil can lead to problems with food grown in the ground and urban agriculture. It can be caused by residue due to poisons that are used to kill bugs in gardens and especially landfills. That is why batteries, paint and other toxic chemicals should never be disposed of in plastic bags and should be properly disposed of.

Lead in the Air:

Lead as a Health Hazard:

Lead is inhaled into the lungs of humans and can be consumed by drinking it. It is mostly harmful to children and infants. It is said that if a home is more than 30 years old, then drinking water from the tap should not be used to make a baby bottle. Instead bottled water or water that is boiled should be used. Some health hazards of lead exposure can lead to the following problems:

  • insomnia
  • delirium
  • cognitive deficits
  • tremor
  • hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • headache,
  • abdominal pain
  • memory loss
  • kidney failure
  • male reproductive problems
  • weakness, pain, or tingling in the extremities
  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • intermittent abdominal pain,
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • muscle pain


There are ways to prevent lead from becoming a problem with health and the environment. There are many steps to take in prevention. First is education,  the more people know about lead the better, pamphlets, websites, and environmental studies are ways to keep informed about lead and other toxins. Secondly prevention of pollution starts with the pollutant, in most cases that is humans. We need to learn proper ways of disposal for toxic and chemical substances that may be harmful to others. Recycling and properly disposing of things with lead can drastically reduce the effects of exposure.

Mountain Top Mining Federal Regulations

Mountaintop Mining is removing the form of surface or summit ridge of a mountain in order to make it easier to get coal. The problem with this type of mining is indeed the airborne toxins that are released from the mining output or flow coming from the mountain. MTM is regularly enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA to keep up the standards of the federal government’s legislation and codes of waste removal.  According to the EPA; the estimates 2200 miles of Appalachian forest will be removed due to MTP by 2012. Due to this there have been a number of amendments to the U. S Clean Air Act that put limitation on processing coal.  Another act of legislation due to MTP is the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 that states that coal miners can put top soil substitute on top of the mountain rather than, the natural top soil that is set aside after blasting.  The SMCRA does give waivers that allow MTR to companies that allow them to to reclamated a mountain top as long as there are no highwalls remaining.  The Clean Water act opposed the above reclamation of soil and fill material though. Started in 1972 the CWA was started as a way to improve water from being contaminated by acid mine drainage, amongst other things. Surface mines are usually required to obtain a national pollutant eliminations system permit in order to discharge harmful chemicals.

 Definition of Federal Legislation of Mountain Top Mining according to http://www.rivernetwork.org, and

www. epa.gov:

Clean Water Act 1972– The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. “Clean Water Act” became the Act’s common name with amendments in 1977.  Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls discharges. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1972– The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) was passed in order “to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations,” among other things. The Act establishes minimum requirements for surface coal mining activities and the reclamation of coal-mined lands. Coal mining activities on state and federal lands is prohibited without a permit, and a reclamation plan must be part of the permit application process. Disturbances to and adverse impacts on fish, wildlife and other environmental values are to be minimized by mine operators. In reclamation planning, land and water resource restoration is a priority. The Act also creates an Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. Money from the fund is used to reclaim and restore land and water resources which have been adversely affected by coal mining. The Act outlines monitoring and inspection provisions as well.

National Environmental Protection Act– The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 is the foundation of federal efforts to protect the environment. The Act requires all federal agencies to examine the need for, alternatives to and environmental consequences of all major proposed federal actions. NEPA requires federal agencies to disclose the environmental effects of their proposed actions and to include the public in their decision- making. The Act also established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.