2014 Emerging Crises Oral History Research Fund Recipient
The 2014 Emerging Crises Oral History Research Fund grant was awarded to Luke Eric Lassiter’s project “Oral Histories of the Charleston West Virginia Chemical Spill.” Affecting the drinking water of over 300,000 people in nine counties, the January 2014 chemical spill in the Elk River was dubbed by the New York Times as “one of the most serious incidents of chemical contamination of drinking water in American history”. The Emerging Crises Grant committee appreciated the project’s focus on social and economic concerns as a counter-narrative to a story thus far framed primarily in psychological terms. It was also impressed by the collaborative nature of the proposal and its support for informed public dialog and policy in West Virginia given emerging doubts over the desirability of Charleston as a place to live and do business. Additionally, in light of the myriad environmental concerns over the impact of hydro-fracking and the transport of more volatile shale oil across the country, the committee found this project to be representative of larger emerging environmental concerns in this country and abroad.