Elk River Chemical Spill

11:16 am
Thu July 31, 2014

In West Virginia, Whitewater Rafting and the Long Tail of a Chemical Spill

Lead in text: 
The economic impact of January's chemical spill from Freedom Industries into the Elk River is still not fully known. But, as The Washington Post reports, rafting companies on the New and Gauley Rivers say they are hurting even though the Elk doesn't flow into the rafting region.
FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. - Dave Arnold stares at the giant whiteboard, searching for clues that his slow summer may finally be picking up, lifting like the New River Gorge's morning fog. The whiteboard hangs inside the storefront of a local photo studio. It lists every commercial whitewater rafting trip for the coming week on the New and Gauley rivers.
Bankruptcy
11:22 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Deadline Approaches for Claims in W.Va. Chemical Spill

Credit AP

    

Time is running out for residents and businesses affected by a January chemical spill in Charleston to file claims in federal bankruptcy court.

Claims against Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the spill, must be filed by Friday. Forms can be obtained and completed on the court's website.

According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston, roughly 850 claims were on the register as of Wednesday morning. The total amount listed for those claims is more than $21 million.

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Tank Demolition
8:49 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

The Final Moments of Freedom Industries' Tank 396

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The storage tank that was the source of a chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians on January 9 has been demolished. Tank 396, which housed the coal-scrubbing compound MCHM, was demolished Tuesday afternoon. Contractors began demolition of the tank farm on July 15.

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Regulations
4:11 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Speaker to Governor: Spill Law Should Exempt Small Oil, Gas

Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia House Speaker Tim Miley wants Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to limit regulation on small oil and gas operators in a law responding to a January chemical spill.

In a July 9 letter, Miley said small, non-Marcellus Shale wells are in "survival mode" and should be exempt from new aboveground tank inspections and registrations.

He says inspections could cost $2,000 per well annually.

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Water Safety
9:32 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Secondary Intake Proposal Calls for Mountaintop Lake in Charleston

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

  Two men have submitted a proposal calling for a mountaintop lake in Charleston that would serve as a backup drinking water source.

The proposal by Fred Stottlemyer and Joe Mullins seeks construction of an earthen dam to create an 800 million-gallon lake at Coonskin Park.

Stottlemyer is former public service district general manager. Mullins was an urban planner in the governor's office in the 1960s.

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Chemical Spill
9:22 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Freedom Industries Pays $11,000 Fine For January Spill

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply has paid an $11,000 fine for a pair of violations.

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Freedom Industries $7,000 earlier this month for keeping storage tanks containing crude MCHM behind a diked wall that was not liquid tight.

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Testing Opposition
10:09 am
Fri July 25, 2014

PETA Opposes Using Animals in W.Va. Testing

Credit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

An animal rights group opposes plans to conduct testing on animals of chemicals that spilled into West Virginia's largest water supply using animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals voiced concerns in a letter Thursday to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials promised additional tests on rats, worms and zebra fish. They will cost up to $1.2 million and take up to a year.

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Health & Science
12:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Feds Commit to Health Studies on Elk River Chemical Spill

Credit AP

Federal, state, and Kanawha county officials met Wednesday in U.S. Senator Joe  Manchin’s Washington D.C. office to pin down plans for more studies on the January 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries. The announcement comes as a relief to those who’ve been pressing for this development since almost day one. 

Members of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the West Virginia Department and Health and Human Resources were part of the meeting.

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Bankruptcy
8:13 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Judge Calls for W.Va. Chemical Spill Agreement

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A bankruptcy judge is giving Freedom Industries, its insurer and stakeholders 10 days to strike an agreement on its $2.9 million insurance policy.

The company that contaminated West Virginia's largest water supply returned to bankruptcy court Tuesday in Charleston.

Freedom and 24 residents and businesses that sued after the spill proposed a $2.9 million settlement Friday using insurance. A board would pick projects benefiting the public to fund.

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Tentative Settlement
9:21 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Freedom Industries in Bankruptcy Court Tuesday

Credit United States District Court / Southern District of West Virginia

  The company at the center of a chemical spill into West Virginia's largest water supply is back in bankruptcy court Tuesday.

Freedom Industries has a Tuesday morning hearing scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston. The hearing will involve a $2.9 million settlement with Freedom's insurer.

Lawyers for Freedom Industries and businesses and people who sued Freedom reached a tentative settlement, according to documents filed Friday in Charleston federal court.

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Lawsuit
1:52 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

$2.9 Million Settlement Proposed for Chemical Spill Cases

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  At least $2.9 million could fuel studies in a proposed settlement between West Virginia businesses and residents and the company that contaminated their water supply.

The deal between lawyers for Freedom Industries and businesses and people who sued Freedom was filed Friday in Charleston federal court. It needs approval in both U.S. district and bankruptcy court.

The agreement would settle 24 lawsuits against Freedom. Many businesses sued to recoup profits they lost while shuttered for days. A January tap-water ban affected 300,000 people.

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Around the Nation
4:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Months From Water Crisis, Leaking W.Va. Tanks Are Demolished

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:40 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

At the beginning of the year, residents of Charleston, West Virginia smelled a licorice odor in their water. It turned out a chemical used in coal production had leaked out of a nearby storage tank, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 people. This week, tanks at the center of this crisis are being demolished. But as Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports, that doesn't necessarily bring closure.

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West Virginia Morning
8:13 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Preliminary Findings About January Chemical Spill, PA Water Quality, Turning Around Matewan

Ashton Marra reports on the preliminary findings from federal investigators about the January chemical spill that contaminated drinking water in nine counties.  In Pennsylvania, residents in one town believe gas drilling is contaminating their drinking water.  Clark Davis reports from Matewan as residents work to turn their town around and you'll want to try yoga after young Ian Gardner in Hinton tells you all about it.

http://www.alleghenyfront.org/

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Investigation
2:38 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

The Five Things You Need to Know About the CSB's Preliminary Investigation at Freedom Industries

Johnnie Banks presented the Chemical Safety Board's preliminary findings on the Freedom Industries spill Wednesday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Investigators from the U. S. Chemical Safety Board presented preliminary findings Wednesday from their investigation into the January chemical leak at Freedom Industries in Charleston.

Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained the process they’ve gone through collecting evidence and information and said they will soon begin to analyze that data to put together a final report and recommendations.

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Tank Demolition
6:22 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Photos & Video: Demolition of Freedom Industries Site Begins

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries contractors began the demolition process  at the site of a January chemical leak that tainted the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians. Contractors knocked out a wall and ripped piping materials from the tanks Tuesday.

Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch said four tanks will remain up to store stormwater and waste at the site until their contents are removed.  He said, at that point, the contents will be removed and those tanks will be torn down at the end of the process.  

Welch says Tank No. 396, which is the tank that stored MCHM and leaked into the river on January 9, will be demolished sometime next week. 

Here are some images of the site just before and during the initial phases of the demolition process:

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Chemical Spill
5:06 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Tank Demolition Underway at Freedom Site

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Demolition has started on at the site of a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated public drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians.

Independence Excavating began the demolition process Tuesday by knocking down a brick wall, tearing out piping, and removing materials connected to the tanks. Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch says the first cuts to the tanks will come Wednesday.

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Environment
5:53 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

DEP Approves Stormwater Management Plan for Freedom Tank Demolition

Credit AP

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved a stormwater management plan for the demolition of the Charleston Freedom Industries site. The tanks there were involved in the contamination of the drinking water for some 300,000 West Virginians in January.

According to the plan approved Monday, Freedom Industries contractors will place liners over the footprint of the tanks to prevent stormwater from unintentionally entering the ground.

Contractors will also halt the demolition process if more than two inches of rain falls within a six-hour period.

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Environment
11:29 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Air Checks Not Planned During Freedom Industries Tank Removal

Credit AP

  State and federal environmental officials say they don't have a way to monitor air quality as chemical storage tanks are taken down at the industrial site that fouled public drinking supplies for 300,000 West Virginia water customers.

The work is scheduled to begin next week at the former Freedom Industries site on the Elk River.

A spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection told The Charleston Gazette the state lacks the technology to perform the air testing for traces of the toxic chemical MCHM. She also said there are no established screening values for safe inhalation levels.

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Investigation
10:37 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Chemical Safety Board to Discuss West Virginia Explosion, Spill

  The federal Chemical Safety Board is coming to Charleston next week to release findings about a New Cumberland metal recycling plant explosion that killed three workers in December 2010.

The board said Thursday that it also will update the public on its investigation of a January chemical spill at the July 16 meeting. The Freedom Industries tank leak contaminated drinking in the Kanawha Valley for days.

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Chemical Spill
1:27 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Study: MCHM Could Be More Toxic Than Previously Thought

Credit AP

  A new study shows a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest drinking water supply in January could be more toxic than a previous test indicated. But the researcher behind the study cautions there are differences between his tests and earlier studies.

University of South Alabama researcher Dr. Andrew Whelton released the findings Thursday from crude MCHM toxicity tests on freshwater fleas.

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