Toxic Town: Minden neighbors still have health concerns

West Virginia

MINDEN, W. Va. (WOWK) — Minden, West Virginia has a population of 250 — but that number is dwindling fast.  What was once a hustling coal community, has quickly turned. Now the town is full of dilapidated buildings and abandoned homes. You’ll also see many signs that read: “PCB’s Kill Communities.” 

A PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, is a highly toxic chemical. The odorless chemical can be found in both solid and liquid forms and described as a “probable human carcinogen.”

In May of 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency placed the town on it’s National Priority List for clean up funding. As part of that list, the community will have access to the EPA’s Superfund, which could help residents in providing specialized medical care and other services.

But while they wait for the EPA to conduct their tests on sites throughout the community, neighbors say they worry about other contaminants that could be harmful to their health.

“We suffered through this PCB stuff for years, and now we’re suffering through this new stuff, ” said long-time Minden resident, Darrell Thomas.

Thomas said many neighbors’ latest concerns come from what they believe is raw sewage that floods the creeks and streams when it rains.

“We have found independent and third-party testing of large amounts of E-coli, basically from stool, and that can cause a lot of infections in the body,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad.

At the request of DEP, we sent the results of the independent testing to officials.

They questioned the results of the study; however, they did say that the agency has been aware of elevated bacteria levels in Minden saying, ” The WVDEP has been aware of elevated bacteria levels in Minden for many years, which is why millions of dollars are being invested to address the sewer issues in Minden.”

EPA officials said the issue was something they were aware of and issued the following statement:

“EPA is aware of concerns raised by Minden residents regarding E.coli in Arbuckle Creek, and the citizen sampling that has been done in the creek and adjacent areas.  The sewer project being implemented by Oak Hill and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is intended to improve the creek’s water quality by eliminating sewer overflows which can be a source of E.coli although there could be other potential sources. ”

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