Elk River Chemical Spill

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries has signed a Voluntary Remediation Agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection following the January 2014 spill of crude MCHM that tainted the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians for days. The agreement is part of the Freedom’s acceptance into the DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program, including clean up the site.

On West Virginia Morning, reports from two public meetings last night.  State officials talk with citizens about clean up plans for the Freedom Industries site in Charleston where a chemical spill occurred last year.  And in Bridgeport, citizens for and against the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline speak to federal officials.  These stories coming up on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.


Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A now-bankrupt chemical company has pleaded guilty to three pollution charges related to last year's spill that contaminated a West Virginia river.

Mark Welch, chief restructuring officer of Freedom Industries, entered the plea on behalf of the company Monday in federal court in Charleston.

Freedom faces a maximum $900,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled June 29.

On West Virginia Morning, Glynis Board reports on a congressional rewrite of the Toxic Substances Control Act.  The state’s two U.S. Senators are sponsors.  And we’ll travel to Pickens in Randolph County to visit with a maple syrup farmer.  These stories coming up on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.


Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The public will learn next week about plans to clean up a chemical storage site on the Elk River that was the source of a public water crisis in West Virginia.

The Tuesday meeting in Charleston will include consultants from Freedom Industries and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection. They'll explain plans under the department's voluntary industrial remediation program.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two former employees at Freedom Industries have pleaded guilty to a pollution charge in last year's chemical spill into a river in West Virginia.

Ex-plant manager Michael Burdette and environmental consultant Robert Reynolds entered the pleas to negligent discharge of a pollutant Wednesday during separate hearings in federal court in Charleston. They each face up to a year in prison when they are sentenced June 24.

The January 2014 spill of a coal-cleaning agent into the Elk River contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents for days.

  At the Legislature today, Senators begin to focus in on the state's four billion dollar budget as they wait for Delegates to approve some major pieces of legislation, like charter schools and campaign finance reform. The West Virginia schools for the deaf and blind will be eligible for funding from the School Building Authority for badly needed improvements under a bill passed by the senate finance committee today.

AP

House lawmakers have approved a push to scale back a 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.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A House of Delegates panel narrowly approved a bill to scale back protections to prevent chemical spills from sullying water supplies.

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

At 11:30 p.m. Monday, the committee voted 13-12 to send the proposal to the floor. Several Kanawha County Republicans opposed it.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

  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.

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.

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.

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.

Freedom Industries
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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