Elk River Chemical Spill

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After the chemical leak from the Freedom Industries site was discovered, some blame was quickly placed on the state Department of Environmental Protection for not properly regulating the tanks. But soon enough, both the public and state lawmakers found out the DEP had no authority over the inspection of those tanks.

That quickly changed as the 2014 legislative session progressed, passing a law to create a registration and inspection program.

Friday marks one year since a chemical tainted the drinking water supply for 300,000 people in and around Charleston, leaving some without usable water for as many as ten days. State lawmakers immediately took action to regulate aboveground storage tanks like the one responsible for the contamination, but the regulatory effort is on going.

Mike Youngren / Presidio Studios in Lewisburg

Mike Youngren has lived in Charleston for the last 20 years. A West Virginia Public Broadcasting alum, Youngren pursued filmmaking after retiring. When the January 9th chemical leak happened, Youngren decided the problem was widespread enough for people to stop to pay attention to what he had to say. With this in mind, he decided to develop his documentary, Elk River Blues.

Patrick Morrisey, W. Va. Attorney General
Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A West Virginia attorney general report says the company behind last January's chemical spill knew of its facility's defects for years.

The report released Thursday by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey office's says in 2010, one manager's report even said "a potential catastrophic failure" could occur without drainage improvements.

WOWK

Three executives charged in a chemical spill last January in West Virginia have pleaded not guilty.

Former Freedom Industries officials Dennis Farrell, William Tis and Gary Southern entered pleas Thursday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley in Charleston.

Farrell and Tis were released on $10,000 bonds.

Southern posted a $100,000 bond in a Fort Myers, Florida, federal court Dec. 9. He was arrested Dec. 8 on a criminal complaint from an FBI affidavit.

Provided

Environmentalists, activists and artists of all sorts are commemorating the one year anniversary of a chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston. The spill of MCHM by Freedom Industries tainted the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians across nine counties and left them without usable tap water for days. 

Here's a list of some of the events happening around Charleston and elsewhere to mark one year since the spill: 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal investigators say a company that spilled chemicals into the water supply for 300,000 people knew about some facility defects for more than a decade.

An FBI affidavit unsealed Wednesday says Freedom Industries employees were aware of a cracked, insufficient containment wall when a subsidiary bought the facility in 2001. A 2008 inspection noted the deteriorated wall. It was never fixed.

AP

  State officials haven't received inspection certifications for 20,000 of 49,000 aboveground tanks due New Year's Day.

The Department of Environmental Protection says it's also determining what's wrong with 80 specific tanks.

Inspections deemed the still-operating tanks unfit for use. They contain hazardous substances, are near water supplies, or both.

Freedom Industries
AP

A study says federal officials overlooked risks of inhaling licorice-smelling fumes from a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest water supply.

The Purdue University study says some people became ill after flushing their pipes of the chemical last January. The spill spurred a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marked a baseline for how much chemical-laden water people could drink safely. It didn't consider other contact methods, like bathing or breathing.

In this piece from The Atlantic, Anya Groner uses January's chemical spill of MCHM into the Elk River to set the stage to discuss the history and future of issues surrounding safe drinking water.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Another former Freedom Industries executive wants U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office removed from prosecuting criminal charges in a chemical spill.

Ex-Freedom president and part-owner Dennis Farrell filed Tuesday's motion in Charleston federal court.

Farrell's lawyers claim Goodwin's office has a conflict of interest because its employees and their families were victims of the Jan. 9 chemical spill that left 300,000 residents without tap water for days. Another ex-Freedom president, Gary Southern, filed a similar motion.

WOWK

Federal prosecutors want a former executive charged in a January chemical spill on home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Freedom Industries
AP

A grand jury has indicted four former executives of a chemical company on pollution charges in a spill that prompted a drinking water ban for 300,000 West Virginia residents.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges ex-Freedom Industries presidents Gary Southern and Dennis P. Farrell and two others with failing to ensure that Freedom operated the terminal that leaked in a reasonable and environmentally sound manner.  

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