Elk River Chemical Spill

9:54 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

Senate Approves Bill to Scale Back Storage Tank Law

The final vote on Senate Bill 423.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved 30-1 a bill that will scale back the state’s above ground storage tank law approved in 2014. The law came as a reaction to the Freedom Industries’ chemical spill into the Kanawha River that left 300,000 West Virginians without usable water for as many as ten days.

Senate Bill 423 separates tanks into two levels, with level one tanks receiving the highest level of scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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3:54 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

From Springs to Spills: How Does West Virginia's Water Taste to International Judges?

Bottled water display
Credit photo by Cecelia Mason

Appalachia is no stranger to industrial or environmental disasters that affect our water. Because of crumbling water infrastructure in many coalfield communities, folks often turn to bottled water for regular use.

But not all bottled water is equal. At least that’s according to judges at the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting & Competition, which took place February 19-22. The competition judges the taste of bottled water, purified water, and municipal city waters from across the world were judged.

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Water Regulation
10:07 am
Thu February 26, 2015

W.Va. Legislators Working to Roll Back Aboveground Tank Regulations

January 2nd of 2014 the Lisby Pad explosion spilled an unknown amount of "black sludge" associated with a horizontal drilling site in Tyler County into a feeder stream of a local municipality's source water stream. In this photo you can see the exploded, 8,000-gallon steel tank which had stood in line with five others.
Credit Bill Hughes


State senators in Charleston took action this week to roll back aboveground tank regulations put in place after last year’s chemical spill which contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians.

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Water Regualtions
8:56 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Senate Starts Work to Scale Back Law after Chemical Spill

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during a meeting.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State lawmakers have taken their first action to scale back a wide-ranging law safeguarding against chemical spills from aboveground tanks.

A January 2014 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days spurred the law.

A Senate committee passed an amended bill Tuesday to deregulate about 36,000 aboveground storage tanks from the new law.

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The Legislature Today
6:39 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Legislature Considers Allowing Kanawha River Become Second Water Intake Source

At the legislature today, protestors brave the snow and cold at the Capitol to rally against a bill that scales back the state's prevailing wage. The head of law enforcement for the Division of Natural Resources tells a Senate committee the pay scale set in code for his officers is making it difficult to recruit qualified individuals. And a special report about the city of Huntington's on going fight against drugs on The Legislature Today.

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Chemical Spill
10:46 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Trial Delayed for Execs in W.Va. Chemical Spill

A judge is rescheduling the trial for former executives facing charges for a massive chemical spill last year.

In U.S. District Court in Charleston on Wednesday, Judge Thomas Johnston moved back the trial for Freedom Industries officials to Oct. 6. The trial had been scheduled for March 10.

The change would likely only apply to ex-Freedom presidents Gary Southern and Dennis Farrell. Also Wednesday, federal prosecutors asked the court to schedule plea hearings for the company, Charles Herzing, William Tis and two lower-level employees.

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The Legislature Today
6:29 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

DEP Secretary Responds to New Storage Tank Bill

  At the legislature today, legislation limiting abortions is on its way to the Senate after the House passed the bill overwhelmingly today.  Uber, the international car service, wants to do business in West Virginia, but legislators have concerns.  And we’ll talk with the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection about the bill to roll back the aboveground storage tank law on The Legislature Today.

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Water Safety
6:47 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Activists Say Weakening of Tank Bill Puts Water Supply at Risk

Activist Karan Ireland speaks as a group holds a clean water banner during a press conference at the state Capitol.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Groups lobbying for strong regulations to protect that state’s water resources gathered at the Capitol Monday to tell lawmakers not to pass a bill they say will gut the above ground storage tank legislation passed last year.

The West Virginia Safe Water Roundtable, comprised of multiple citizen action groups and affiliated with the Our Children, Our Future Campaign, spoke out against House Bill 2574.

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The Legislature Today
6:30 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

House Passes Bill for Legislative Approval of DEP Clean Air State Plan

At the legislature today, the House approves a bill that inserts the legislature into the state Department of Environmental Protection’s plans to comply with US EPA carbon emission standards. That measure now goes to the senate where passage is expected. And a year after the Kanawha Valley water crisis, things are back to normal for the 300,000 West Virginians affected, but some residents of McDowell County are just getting clean water after years without it. A special report on water and more coming up on The Legislature Today.

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The Legislature Today
6:36 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Senate Debates Prevailing Wage Bill

At the legislature today, the bill to repeal the prevailing wage law isn’t on the senate floor yet, but an attempt to stop it from coming to the floor sparked debate about the measure.  In the house today, delegates adopted an amendment that would require the Governor to appoint two members of the West Virginia Board of Education that have school age children.  These stories and we’ll meet the Majority Leaders on The Legislature Today.

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1:52 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Former Freedom Industries Execs Set for U.S. Arraignment

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Four former Freedom Industries executives are scheduled to be arraigned on a superseding indictment stemming from a chemical spill last January that turned off the water tap to 300,000 people.

The superseding indictment contains a new charge against former Freedom President Gary Southern stemming from the company's bankruptcy and restates the original charges against him and three other former executives.

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3:51 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

W.Va. Proposes Fees in Tank Law to Prevent Chemical Spills

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State environmental regulators say the highest-risk aboveground storage tanks could face a $375 annual fee in a law to protect water supplies.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman made the comments to a state Senate budget panel Monday. The fees aren't finalized.

Out of more than 48,000 tanks registered under the law, Huffman said almost 3,800 near a water supply and 3,700 others considered high-risk could face the $375 annual per-tank fee.

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Chemical Spill
11:33 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Ex-Freedom Industries President Faces New Fraud Charge

Credit WOWK

  Former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern faces a new federal fraud charge stemming from the company's bankruptcy.

A federal grand jury in Beckley, West Virginia, handed up a superseding indictment on Wednesday against Southern and three other former Freedom executives. The indictment charges Southern with a new count of fraud by interstate commercial carrier and restates the charges in the original indictment.

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West Virginia Morning
8:23 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Republican House and Senate Begin Repeals

On this episode of West Virginia Morning, We bring you our fifth and final installment of our series Water in the Coalfields and our mountain stage song of the week.

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West Virginia Morning
8:21 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Governor Tomblin Outlines 2015 Agenda

One this episode of West Virginia Morning, Governor Tomblin emphasized reaching across the aisle and moving the state forward last night during his state of the state address. And we continue our series on water quality.

West Virginia Morning
8:21 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Water Quality Effects on Health

On West Virginia Morning, incoming legislative leaders tell us what they would like to hear from Governor Tomblin in his State of the State address tonight. And our water quality series continues with a look at the health effects of polluted water.

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West Virginia Morning
8:21 am
Tue January 13, 2015

State Revenues Still in Shortfall

On West Virginia Morning, Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss gives reporters an overview of the state’s budget challenges and Jessica Lilly continues her series of reports about water quality in southern West Virginia. 

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West Virginia Morning
8:17 am
Mon January 12, 2015

1939 Law Affects the Price for Gas

On West Virginia Morning, lawmakers are discussing the price of gasoline in the state.  And Jessica Lilly begins a series of reports about water quality in southern West Virginia.

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Arts & Culture
11:49 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Puppet Protest Commemorates January 9th Chemical Leak

Mother Earth and the elements; earth, water, fire, and air.
Liz McCormick West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A protest featuring giant puppets was held in front of the Kanawha County Public Library yesterday, commemorating the January 9th chemical spill one year ago.

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Chemical Spill
11:57 am
Fri January 9, 2015

W.Va. Chief Health Officer Reflects on Chemical Spill Response

Dr. Rahul Gupta is the Commissioner for the state Bureau of Public Health.
Credit West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

As soon as he was made aware of the Freedom Industries' chemical spill and the tap water use ban, Dr. Rahul Gupta said his main concern was the health and safety of the citizens in the affected area.

In January of 2014, Gupta was serving as the Executive Director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, a position he held since 2009, and was very vocal when responding to all of the possible health concerns related to the spill.

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