Today In West Virginia Water

Move over Freedom Industries, because Patriot Coal is taking over:

A coal preparation facility spilled an unknown quantity of coal slurry into a creek in Kanawha County, W.V. Tuesday morning, according to West Virginia officials.

As the Charleston Gazette reports, the spill occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation, which is located near Fields Creek. The operation is near Winifrede, WV — southeast of Charleston, the state’s capitol and site of last month’s major chemical spill. The amount of coal slurry that spilled is still unknown, but a West Virginia DEP spokesman told the Charleston Gazette that the spill could probably be characterized as “significant.”

According to the county’s emergency services director, the spill was caused by a break in the eight-inch slurry line that ran between the preparation plant and the company’s refuse impoundment, which occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 in the morning. According to the DEP, the company in charge of the facility reported the spill to the DEP at 7:30 a.m.

The Onion would have a hard time coming up with better names. At any rate, America, land of the free, home of the brave enough to drink the water polluted by ironically named companies.

BTW- the only legislative action that I have heard so far in response to the Freedom Industries spill was Joe Manchin proposed that regulators be required to inspect chemical storage containers… every three years. Your car, which isn’t going to be poisoning 300k people, is required by law to be inspected every year.

These guys don’t even have the balls to tell us to just fuck off and that they are only in it for the rich.

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86 replies
  1. 1
    Bill ORLY says:

    Not my car. The Free State of Arizona has determined that its residents are sufficiently capable of determining the safety of their vehicles.

  2. 2
    RP says:

    It’s hard for me, not a West Virginian, to get outraged seeing that West Virginians themselves aren’t sufficiently pissed to vote for candidates that might annoy the job creators.

  3. 3
    Nemo_N says:

    And that’s why I twitch every time I hear the words “freedom”, “liberty” and “patriot”. I wish I didn’t since I like the concepts themselves, but that’s how fools are using them.

  4. 4
    slippytoad says:

    I used to joke that the more “patriotic” someone was the more likely I was looking at a hard-core, remorseless criminal veritably dripping with the pond scum he just arose from.

    Seems like the joke is no longer funny. What is it that when you’re a fucking lying, conniving piece of criminal garbage you feel like if you just scream YAY USA everyone will let you do it?

  5. 5
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Here in Maryland, the only time a car has to be inspected is when you either buy it or own it when you move in state. After that, it’s up to you: my 2000 Accord hasn’t been inspected since the day I drove it off the dealer’s lot.

  6. 6

    Every generation learns skills important to our time. The skills we’ve been learning the last twenty years have been to spot scams, which includes assholes dressing themselves up in pretty names to hide their skullduggery.

    EDIT – @slippytoad:
    Memories of the cold war.

  7. 7
    cleek says:

    why are MA and AZ are giving up untold millions in fees?

    annual registration is a great moneymaking scheme for states and garages alike!

  8. 8
    jl says:

    @cleek: But registration doesn’t always require a vehicle inspection. In CA, registration requires periodic smog check, but not any other type or inspection.

    Edit: but, yeah, I guess requiring inspections would make repair shops lots of dough they don’t get now.

  9. 9
    beltane says:

    @slippytoad: Why? Because if you shout FREEDOM! and PATRIOT! and cloak yourself in a flag, you can get away with almost anything. In fact, anywhere from 27%-50% of the population will demand that you get away with everything.

  10. 10
    replicnt6 says:


    What is it that when you’re a fucking lying, conniving piece of criminal garbage you feel like if you just scream YAY USA everyone will let you do it?

    That’s easy: Because if you just scream YAY USA everyone will let you do it.

  11. 11
    slippytoad says:

    OK, I edited my own comment and rattled on too long. I wanted to add, I’m glad I’m not in WV right now. Not just because my Indiana water is marginally more potable (we drink bottled all the time, it tastes so bad here). But because the day I open my tap to green, yellow, blue, or black ooze, or any fucking weird smell, I will find out whose garbage it is and I WILL RETURN IT to them.

    So, for example, right now you would probably be reading about me getting arrested with a 55-gallon drum of MCHM or whatever that shit is, while I’m pouring it all over Gary Southern’s fucking front yard, and in his pool, and in his everything. Because, I’m so sick of wondering what poison is going to kill me, I want to MAKE these assholes sue me in court, and EXPLAIN what it is that is so wrong with what I did, because I don’t think they’ll have the balls, ultimately.

  12. 12
    jl says:

    I heard short excerpts from interviews with West Virginians on national news, and they seemed more pissed off about the government and environmental agencies than the company that dumped the poison into the water.

    Maybe it was a jackass editing it, but the tone of the interviews was jarring, since the story was about the scam company, run by a con-man and ex-convict, going bankrupt.

    Edit: even though the previous thread was in part about voting rights of felons, I mention that Freedom Ind. boss has a criminal record and has a history in scam operations to remind people that he is, objectively, a sketchy character. Not sure if we was convicted of a felony, but even if he were, he should have the right to vote. But he certainly deserves no respect as a solid businessman.

  13. 13
    beltane says:

    There is nothing ironic about the name “Patriot Coal”. The CEO might just be a big Samuel Johnson fan trying to prove him correct when he wrote that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

  14. 14
    cleek says:


    “registration’ should be “inspection” in that comment.

    (tho in NC, they are tied together)

  15. 15
    KG says:

    @Nemo_N: last refuge of scoundrels and all that…

  16. 16
    Napoleon says:

    Ohio does not inspect its cars. If you live in certain places in the state you need your emissions checked every couple of years, and occasionally the Highway Patrol will do spot checks (I have not seen one of those for the last 20 years though on anyone).

  17. 17
    jl says:

    @cleek: Cars last so long out in SW, I think periodic overall inspection would be a good idea, even though I would hate it personally since I maintain my car on schedule, more or less.

  18. 18
    slippytoad says:

    @jl: Great minds are thinking alike, it seems.

    I am pretty much down to “fraud,” “scam-artist,” and “taker” in my moral vocabulary for the overwhelming majority of the right, which has seemingly distilled itself out of all other elements except the scrummy piece of wadded-up-crap ones. Scratch one of these guys (let’s pick a Darryl Issa out of the audience, shall we) and you find former, or ex- or unconvicted or suspected- very unsavory things. Car theft and insurance fraud were Issa’s youthful transgressions. For which he was never properly punished.

  19. 19
    replicnt6 says:

    @beltane: Seems it’s moved up to the first refuge of scoundrels these days.

  20. 20
    catclub says:

    @slippytoad: Gary North (Christian Dominionist wackaloon fer chrissakes) states that for any organization with ‘Christian’ in the name, he makes sure to get payment in advance.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    @slippytoad: Maybe that is why they are all middle or better class white guys. Who else would be able to get away with stunts like they pulled and still rate being entrusted with running companies that handle large sums of money, or dangerous chemicals, or being elected to public office? African-Americans or Hispanics that had similar histories would be done, as would most poor whites.

  22. 22
    cleek says:

    in NC, ‘inspection’ is: do the horn, lights, flashers and wipers work? is there minimal tread on the tires? do you have mirrors? are tailpipe emissions acceptable? $25 please! and then you earn the right to re-register. $35 please! and then you get to pay state vehicle property tax.

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    @beltane: Ambrose Bierce corrects the optimistic doctor and notes it is the first refuge.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    It should be noted that, unlike the chemical spill, this other new spill was reported promptly and in accordance with what scanty regulation there is.

  25. 25
    catclub says:

    @replicnt6: beat me to it, but I mentioned Bierce.

  26. 26
    slippytoad says:


    Oh, I got one better. I had a plumber (I won’t use him anymore) who, the first time he told me all how Christian he was, I kind of was worried about something else and when people try to get religious on me I usually get a sudden case of tinnitis, because I refuse to argue with them anymore about what they won’t understand, so I paid it not much mind.

    The second time he told me how he was a decent honest guy who’d never screw a customer he was ripping it out of me at a fantastic rate for running a roto-rooter into the vent in my lawn, which I could have had a friend to for free. Harping on how Christian you are, to me, now seems just another form of scum-shielding.

  27. 27
    gbear says:

    @Nemo_N: If there’s a company in WV named “Eagle”-something-or-other, the state should be keeping a close watch on their operations.

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    A little good news: there are no nuclear plants in West Virginia.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    Your car, which isn’t going to be poisoning 300k people, is required by law to be inspected every year.

    Mine only has to be inspected every other year, and that’s only the emissions system, not the whole car. Of course, that inspection is paid for out of my own pocket. I think I see a solution to the problem of how to pay for chemical plant inspections…

  30. 30
    Chris says:


    I heard short excerpts from interviews with West Virginians on national news, and they seemed more pissed off about the government and environmental agencies than the company that dumped the poison into the water.

    So what’re they going to do about it? Vote to punish the government and environmental agencies by underfunding them even more and electing the people who’re dedicated to ensuring that they do nothing, and then hope that by some miracle the con artists will magnanimously decide not to poison the water?

    … I’m trying to see how that could possibly go wrong, but it’s just not coming. Fire away.

  31. 31
    Chris says:


    Agreed. “Christianity” and “patriotism” are the two refuges of the scoundrel in our day and age.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @cleek: OK, that is sure some tough inspection! In CA, Highway Patrol does spot inspections, but I think they focus mostly on commercial trucks. I’ve only seen old clunkers pulled over for what look like Highway Patrol inspections, probably because they were pumping out smoke screen levels of gunk into the air.

  33. 33
    Napoleon says:


    Or Red, White and Blue.

  34. 34
    beltane says:

    @Chris: It has been like this since the first king and the first high priest got together to devise a scheme to convince their fellow tribespeople to give them a share of the grain harvest.

  35. 35
    jl says:

    Only bright side I see to this post, is that we might have a good warning sign to take precautions.

    If All-American Patriot Red White and Blue Freedom-Enterprise Industries sets up a tank farm of any kind in your area, better check things out and be prepared to relocate if you’re in some blast, plume, or fume zone.

  36. 36
    boatboy_srq says:


    a hard-core, remorseless criminal veritably dripping with the pond scum he just arose from

    … and apparently allowed to overflow into the river…

    Best comment I’ve seen on this whole mess: “this is your state on Republicans.”

    Capito seems to be campaigning on some “better regulation” platform in the wash of these events.

    @jl: What I’ve seen so far is reaction against the regulators not protecting WV properly – not how “big gubmint” was preventing WV from having nice things. Sounds to me like a teachable moment there.

  37. 37
    Chris says:


    Oh, good. Hope that’s correct, indeed.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    @boatboy_srq: I’ve been thinking that maybe some jackass politically biased, or incompetent, editor was in charge. The anti-government tone of the interviews, with no mention at all of the company, was jarring. The story was about the scam company going bankrupt, remember.

  39. 39
    Gex says:

    @Nemo_N: Much like family values. I think families are important. I think they should be valued. But for some reason, I have a visceral reaction to the phrase family values. Maybe because people have been beating me up with them for a decade or so.

  40. 40
    Pluky says:

    @cleek: That’s MD, not MA. Trust me, Massachusetts makes sure to get its biannual inspection fees.

  41. 41
    BGinCHI says:

    You know the old WV saying: “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on me. Ad infinitum.”

  42. 42
    slippytoad says:


    Yes, yes, and again yes. However, I think it’s also extreme wealth that purchases this freedom from responsibility.

    That is why I (a middle-aged white guy myself) would be fascinated to play out the scenario of “I dare you, Mr. Polluting CEO, to sue me for pouring your garbage on your lawn.” Would I get penalized for what he got out of scot-free? Would he have the balls to articulate for the court and all time fears for his health and safety?

    I had something like this happen to me in the early 1990’s in Denver. Some asshole’s riverside warehouse full of cedar shingles went up, and the debris and firefighting foam ended up coming out of my tap and shower, and we all smelled like a burned cedar for about six weeks, and I couldn’t make food in the house (washing dishes was impossible) so we ate out for a long time. Costing me a lot of money. I don’t recall that the owner of that ever made it up to me, or even offered. We bear the cost of these peoples’ reckless behavior all the time. These are not acts of god, or shit happens. These are clear cases of neglect and carelessness that could have easily been avoided. You know if we don’t regulate this stuff it’s because it is supposed to regulate itself? I figure, time to engage in a little regulatin’ of our own.

  43. 43

    Not that I’m advocating or endorsing such actions: but I’ll believe those who chortle over “Second Amendment remedies” are truly principled when they start threatening corporations that endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, rather than politicians who try to cover more Americans with health care.

  44. 44
    Gex says:

    @slippytoad: Back when I first got into tech, it was known among web developers that you had to be really careful working for religious groups. They’d act like a normal customer until the work is done. Then they’d pressure you to donate your work to the Lord. And then you’d be in a battle to try to get paid.

  45. 45
    beltane says:

    @slippytoad: If you want to go dumping garbage on Mr. Polluting CEO’s lawn, I suggest that you wear a tricorner hat and carry a big flag.

  46. 46
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Chris: Yep. The problem is that people found out about it. If you never find out about it, you’re in the clear. Mysterious illnesses can be acts of god or chalked up to eating too much fatty foods. Steps should be taken to not find out about these kinds of incidents.

  47. 47
    srv says:

    The New Yorker explains why Amazon is worse than Patriot Coal.

  48. 48


    You getting any snow where you are? It is coming down heavy here on the coast after Skip Waters told it was just going to be freezing rain, we got the two inches of freezing rain Skip but now we are getting the snow too. (My boss let me leave the office at 11am because he said it was going to be too dangerous to be on the roads at 5pm, he was right).

  49. 49
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Chris: Yeh. I do lurve how she goes from “Contrary to what [EPA Administrator] Jackson claims, regulations are destroying jobs” on her current House of Reps page to calling Freedom’s inaction-then-bankruptcy (the consequences of inadequate regulation) “absolutely unacceptable” – but only when these things affect her constituents. I’m reminded of all the Dixie Reichwingers loud complaints over FEMA aid to anywhere – except their locales when something nasty happened to their enablers constituents.

  50. 50

    Patriot Coal is using 1984 as an instruction manual not a cautionary tale.

  51. 51
    gvg says:

    If I heard a criminal was allowed to run a dangerous type of business I think I might be more pissed at the brain dead government than the criminal. Scorpions gotta sting but why was the frog so stupid? I mean that doesn’t mean I don’t think the criminal shouldn’t go back to jail….it just means I am not surprised by him and won’t waste my energy expecting him to have behaved better. The government officials will actually maybe do what I want if I and a bunch of my friends get angry enough. Criminal fraud jerk might say he will reform but he’ll just move on to the next scam….it works better to yell at government.

  52. 52
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    I thought only Russia had shitty water.

  53. 53
    Cervantes says:

    @jl: Re Gingrich and the AMA (yesterday), left you some primary documents and a news report.

  54. 54
    Mike E says:

    @cleek: They nicked me with an exhaust system FAIL…cost=$150. Add the $212 for the side window that got smashed by roadside rock throwers, and my “inspection + property tax” portion of my automotive experience in ’14 came to nearly $500.

  55. 55
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Gex: Funny. Back when I got into tech, it was know among consultants that the wingnuttier the denomination, the higher the likelihood of porn on the desktops.

  56. 56
    dmsilev says:


    I used to joke that the more “patriotic” someone was the more likely I was looking at a hard-core, remorseless criminal veritably dripping with the pond scum he just arose from.

    “In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.” — Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary.

  57. 57
    Citizen_X says:

    Freedom Industries? Patriot Coal? What the hell is in the water over th…

    Oh. Yeah. Never mind.

  58. 58
    slippytoad says:

    @Gex: LOL. No surprise there. I can hear the truculent whining right now, in the tone of voice you hear ’round these parts, about giving a Christian a break for God community blah fucking blah blah blah, from an outfit that gets a tax-exempt ride (and presumably complete financial privacy if they want it). Not, of course, actually contributing jack shit to said community.

  59. 59
    Cluttered Mind says:

    Given the traditional wingnut definition of “patriot”, “liberty”, or “freedom” (I can do whatever the fuck I want because I am white and this is MURIKA), I actually don’t think irony is the word you’re looking for with these names.

  60. 60

    @Mike E:

    With me it was brakes and tires. Cost me close to $600.00.

    Speaking of Christians David Attenborough had a righteous rant about creationists and climate change deniers today. Unusual for him.

  61. 61
    Cluttered Mind says:

    Orwell tried to warn us about this.

  62. 62
    Anoniminous says:

    The reason those ratpack bastards at Peabody Coal* are not uranium mining on the Navaho reservation and spreading the “externalities” of radiation poisoning, cancer, leukemia, & other wonderful life ending conditions is the tribe got together and told them to go pound sand, white-eyes.

    Expect the destruction of WV to continue until WV’ians do likewise

    * or whatever alias they are hiding behind these days

  63. 63
    jl says:

    @Cervantes: Thanks. I read about Gingrich’s dressing down of the AMA in a book on the history of health care in the U.S. I guess Gingrich got tired of patronizing them when they would not agree with everything the GOP wanted to do.

    As I said last night, I am not a big fan of the AMA. But it was dumb for Gingrich to insult them and baldly and haughtily inform them that they were just some high class tradesman interest group, and simply not, and never would be real players because they did not focus entirely on influence peddling and money shuffling (though AMA does do that!).

    Lil’ Newtie has given us many gifts, despite all the damage he’s done.

  64. 64
    IowaOldLady says:

    Mr IOL commented just the other day how sad it was that when he saw an ad with a flag in the background, he was immediately suspicious.

  65. 65
    Violet says:

    I regularly drive by some business called Patriot Staffing or Patriot Contracting or Patriot Services or something like that. I don’t even know what they’re called or what they do but the Patriot part is huge on their sign, along with the gold eagle. I figure it’s owned by a teabagger. Who else would call their business that?

  66. 66
    srv says:

    I’m going to check if God Bless America Industries in trademarked.

  67. 67
    Tokyokie says:

    We’ve had annual car inspections in Texas for more than 30 years, and I’ve often been driving cars that were so dicey, I’m surprised they passed. Especially the 1969 Pontiac Tempest that was rear-ended (I pocketed the insurance settlement) that had part of the bumper wrapped around the left taillight. I mounted a brake light atop the bumper, and it passed, but probably only because the guy who inspected it was old and couldn’t really bend over to check the missing tire treads.

    And I’m still PO’ed that the 1965 VW squareback failed on first try not because the horn didn’t work, but because the inspector found that the loud noise it made (it sounded like it was coming through a blown speaker) was inappropriate. A couple of minutes of monkeying with the electrical lead, and it sounded good enough to pass inspection. But still, it was a car horn and it was loud. Why worry about the aesthetics of that?

  68. 68
    cleek says:


    You getting any snow where you are?

    not a flake in Cary. so far.

    and if it can hold off for another 35 minutes while i drive home, that would be most appreciated! :)

  69. 69
    Cervantes says:


    I read about Gingrich’s dressing down of the AMA in a book on the history of health care in the U.S.

    Which book?

    Also, I think you said you’re a fan of Uwe Reinhardt’s. On the subject of physicians and money, have you read his doctoral dissertation (An Economic Analysis of Physicians’ Practices, Yale, 1970)?

  70. 70
    mai naem says:

    If I find any tradesman/business person coming up to me and talking about the lord etc. I pretty much know is a POS crook, possibly incompetent. I used to deal with a couple who did remodeling/contracting who got in trouble with the IRS. They were nice people but after they settled with the IRS they set up their own ministry and I remember the man telling me that they could make “way more money” in their ministry then at their contracting work.

  71. 71
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Cluttered Mind: How can I trust you to understand our complicated American Values when one of those values is that white people are always right and in charge?

  72. 72
    Cermet says:

    @slippytoad: So-called christians always put money first; money IS their only God and christ is what they use to let you know they are saved and all else really doesn’t matter as long as they get the money owed them. There are very, very few people that would ever follow Christ’s words/ideas; and frankly, if their are even a few hundred in the entire world, I’d be somewhat surprised it was even that large. Anyone who claims to be a christian is a hypocrite.

  73. 73
    Matt says:

    Note to self: never drop kids off at Patriot Freedom Daycare. It’s probably the frontend for a meat pie factory or something.

  74. 74
    jl says:


    “Which book?” I’ve read so damn many, I cannot remember. But will try. I’ll look through a couple I have at hand.

    “An Economic Analysis of Physicians’ Practices, Yale, 1970)?” Yes, I long time ago. My only problem with Reinhardt is that he very rarely writes out a formal model, or even a list of the elements of his overall theory of US health care expenditure. That leads to some inconsistencies in his analysis.

    I like recommending him to people because he understands both health care and finance, so he knows how to follow the money much better than most health economist. His informal story telling style invites non-economists to keeping reading and think about things. But there are some costs to that.

    Edit: I guess you know Reinchardt has a very nice website with public access to some of his peer reviewed articles at Princeton.

  75. 75
    PaulW says:

    They’re doing it in West Virginia, they’re doing it in North Carolina…

    JESUS. Honestly, I am calling on JESUS about this. Are these coal and energy companies DOING THIS ON PURPOSE?!?!

  76. 76
    Cervantes says:


    “Which book?” I’ve read so damn many, I cannot remember. But will try. I’ll look through a couple I have at hand.

    Thanks. I’m curious to see how it compares to those documents I left you.

    And thanks also for yesterday’s comments. I found them helpful.

  77. 77
    Jebediah, RBG says:


    Funny. Back when I got into tech, it was know among consultants that the wingnuttier the denomination, the higher the likelihood of porn on the desktops.

    So… pervs, plus too dimwitted to have a clue about hiding the pron.

  78. 78

    I wonder how often this has happened already without anybody finding out about it. People in West Virginia, east Kentucky, southeast Ohio, those who live in or near the coal fields of Pennsylvania (which is pretty much anybody but those in or near Philadelphia, or the southern stretch of counties east of Gettysburg), they might have been drinking poisoned water for years without anybody bothering to tell them.

  79. 79
    Pogonip says:

    @slippytoad: Anyone who makes a point of telling you he’s a Christian is going to be trouble. The more he reiterates, the bigger the problems he’ll cause.

  80. 80
    Jay C says:


    “Biannual”?? You mean “annual” – which is how often the Totalitarian Commondeath of Taxachusetts requires one to have the safety/emissions inspections done (at the fixed price of $29) for all MA vehicles. The registration is biennial, though: and fairly reasonable: though of course, the local towns also get to hook car-owners for the annual Excise Tax (based on “value”) – at least this year, we’re getting our money’s worth in snowplowing….

  81. 81
    Robert Sneddon says:

    The UK has an annual MOT (Ministry of Transport) test for anything with an engine basically. It costs about 90 bucks US to get it done by licenced garages and fails include damage to sidewalls of tyres, cracks in the windscreen, corroded brakepipes etc. They test the car’s braking performance on a rolling road, emissions check for CO and NOx, particulates and the like, fuel leaks, engine noise, suspension, lights, body corrosion, condition and functioning of seatbelts, seat mountings, steering etc. etc.

    It might be one reason we have many fewer car accidents per mile driven than the US does.

  82. 82
    monkeyfister says:

    $25 bet to Cole’s charity of choice that Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation is BK and out of operation by March 1st or sooner.

    Not part of the bet: They’ll put up a sign saying, “So long, Suckers!”

  83. 83
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Robert Sneddon: That, and the requirement that issuance of a driving licence requires demonstrable proof that the recipient can actually, you know, drive.

  84. 84
    jonas says:

    Next month: Sweet Baby Jesus Stars & Stripes Apple Pie Industries accidentally releases 10 tons of cyanide gas over an elementary school — 200 dead, 350 seriously injured or hospitalized — Locals worry about impact on jobs.

  85. 85
    monkeyfister says:

    @jonas: Beyond guaranteed.


  86. 86
    NCSteve says:

    So, do you guys have like a Stinking Commie Rats Coal Company or an Islamofascist Energy or a America Hating Hipster Coal, LLC that doesn’t feel the need to befoul the most beautiful rivers in the U.S.?

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