Elk River Chemical Spill

West Virginia Morning
7:59 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Legislative Interims Discuss Tank Safety and Craft Beer

On West Virginia Morning, two reports from the legislature’s interim meetings.  Ashton Marra on the new rule about certification and inspections of above ground storage tanks.  And Dave Mistich on what the state’s craft brewers are seeking from lawmakers.

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Elk River Chemical Spill
1:41 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Rules Prioritize Above Ground Tank Inspections

Credit davidwilson1949 / wikimedia Commons

Gov. Tomblin said today that after months of hard work by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, an interpretive rule providing guidance on the implementation of Senate Bill 373, the above ground storage safety law, has been established.

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Government
2:32 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Tomblin: No Special Session on Tank Law Changes

Credit AP

  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is planning administrative fixes instead of a special session to adjust a law regulating aboveground storage tanks.

Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman says the governor won't call a special session, as legislative leaders had urged. Lawmakers are already in Charleston this week for interim committee meetings.

Stadelman says the administration plans to put a higher priority on inspections for tanks near water supplies. He says tanks holding hazardous materials will also take priority.

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Chemical Spill
11:01 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Judge Worried Freedom Industries May Abandon Spill Site

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A bankruptcy judge is concerned that a chemical company may abandon the site of a massive January spill without cleaning it up.

Judge Ronald Pearson expressed the concern in an order filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

The order points out that Freedom Industries' plan to liquidate says the company expects to pay $850,000 or less to remediate its Charleston spill site.

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Government
8:48 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Tomblin Taps Members for West Virginia Water Commission

Credit Office of the Governor

  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has appointed four members to a panel dedicated to reviewing a new law to protect drinking water supplies.

Appointees include engineer Rick Roberts, hydrologist Ed Watson, public health expert Dr. Mike McCawley and citizen representative Pam Nixon.

Top officials from state environmental and health agencies, Public Service Commission and Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be on the commission.

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Bankruptcy
12:43 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Utility Opposes $2.9 Million Deal in Freedom Industries Bankruptcy Case

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

  A utility is opposing a $2.9 million bankruptcy settlement that would fund projects to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in January.

West Virginia American Water says Freedom Industries shouldn't use money from its insurance proceeds to pay for the projects. The company filed its opposition last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

Freedom's spill in January spurred a tap-water ban for days. The company filed for bankruptcy eight days later.

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Legislation
4:29 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Groups Working with Governor, DEP to Avoid Special Session on Tank Bill

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Stakeholders met with the governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection Friday to discuss possibly calling the legislature into a special session. The session would be focused on fixing some unintended consequences both Senate and House leadership see in the above ground storage tank bill passed earlier this year.

Friday’s meeting was the second this week focused on Senate Bill 373, legislation that came as a response to January’s chemical spill in Charleston. The spill contaminated 300,000 people’s drinking water for as many as ten days.

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Government
3:40 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Kessler Appoints Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Chief to Water System Panel

Credit Kanawha Charleston Health Department

Senate President Jeff Kessler has announced his appointment to a statewide panel that will focus on the quality of public water systems in West Virginia.

Kessler announced in a press release the appointment of Kanawha- Charleston Health Department Executive Director Dr. Rahul Gupta to the panel. Gupta will serve as a non-voting member.

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Environment
10:23 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Freedom Industries Eyes Voluntary Cleanup Program

Credit AP

  Freedom Industries is considering trying to enter a state program to help ease cleanup at the site where a chemical spill polluted the Charleston area's water supply.

The company and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection met last week to discuss whether the site is eligible for the agency's Voluntary Remediation Program.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the move that could result in Freedom having to meet less-stringent contamination standards than under existing enforcement orders.

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Chemical Spill
10:26 am
Thu August 28, 2014

House, Senate Leaders Urge Delay in West Virginia Tank Law

Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  State House and Senate leaders are urging the governor to call a special session to delay part of an aboveground storage tank law.

House Speaker Tim Miley and Senate President Jeff Kessler asked Gov.  Tomblin to call the session during next month's interim meetings. They're slated for Sept. 8-10.

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Investigation
9:36 am
Thu August 28, 2014

W.Va. PSC Chair Steps Down from Chemical Spill Probe

  The state Public Service Commission's chairman has removed himself from an investigation into a water company's response to a January chemical spill.

The Charleston Gazette reports PSC Chairman Mike Albert cited his previous work as an attorney representing West Virginia American Water in stepping down from the spill investigation.

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Chemical Spill
4:18 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

West Virginia to Study Elk River Fish Life After Chemical Spill

Credit AP

  The state will survey fish life in the Elk River after a massive chemical spill polluted the waterway in January.

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Fish Health Laboratory in Leetown will aid the state Division of Natural Resources in the project next week.

The Freedom Industries spill contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 people for days.

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Chemical Spill
1:39 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Airport, Chemical Company Want Spill Lawsuits Dismissed

Credit AP

An airport and a chemical producer want claims dismissed in a lawsuit partly targeting them over a January chemical spill.

In U.S. District Court in Charleston, Yeager Airport filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss claims in the wide-spanning lawsuit. Plaintiffs say the Charleston airport's now-complete runway project contributed to the spill that left 300,000 residents without clean water for days.

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Health & Science
2:03 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

CDC: W.Va. Bureau for Public Health Was Untrained for Freedom Chemical Spill

Credit AP

  A federal report says West Virginia public health officials weren't trained to respond to a January chemical spill along the Elk River.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the state Bureau for Public Health had no epidemiologists trained specifically to deal with chemical or natural disasters. Instead, those who focus on infectious diseases led the bureau's response to the spill Jan. 9 spill at Freedom Industries.

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Investigation
12:06 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

PSC Wants Shielded Info in West Virginia American Water Probe

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia regulators say they may consider information potentially protected by federal laws in their investigation into January’s chemical spill. The investigation focuses on West Virginia American Water’s response to the incident.

 At Monday's state Public Service Commission meeting, Chairman Michael Albert said documents and emergency plans protected by anti-terrorism laws could be deemed essential and considered.

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Tank Regulations
8:24 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Tank Registration Deadline Looming

Credit AP

West Virginia officials are reminding tank owners to register their aboveground storage tanks with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Tank registration is required by Oct. 1.

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Chemical Spill
8:14 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Claims Growing Against Fizzled W.Va. Spill Company

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of agencies, businesses and people are trying to squeeze millions of dollars out of the bankrupt company behind West Virginia's chemical spill in January.

Case claims agent James Lane says Freedom Industries can expect about 5,000 groups to request money in bankruptcy claims over the spill. The total sought has topped $170 million and is growing.

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Chemical Spill
6:59 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Feds Describe New W.Va. Chemical Spill Studies

Federal health officials are outlining new studies on the chemicals that spilled into West Virginia's largest drinking water supply.

The National Toxicology Program said in a Thursday memo that potential pregnancy and liver complications are among study topics.

One study will see if pregnant rats exposed to MCHM show birth defects or health issues in their offspring.

Another will see how the chemicals affect zebrafish and roundworms over their entire lifespans.

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Chemical Spill
6:57 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Utility: Chemical Spill Cost $11 Million in Profits

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

A West Virginia water supplier has taken an $11 million hit to address a January chemical spill that tainted 300,000 people's tap water.

Quarterly filings show that the spill cost American Water $10.9 million in income. The company says the second quarter impact was $5 million.

State affiliate West Virginia American Water is seeking three bankruptcy claims from Freedom Industries, the company that spilled chemicals. One is a $1.1 million request to cover the filters the water company replaced.

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Chemical Spill
3:33 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

West Virginia Seeks $1.8 Million from Freedom Industries

Credit AP

  The state of West Virginia is seeking $1.8 million from the bankrupt company that spilled chemicals into the state's largest water supply.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed the claim in bankruptcy court in Charleston.

The claim against Freedom Industries covers multiple agencies' spill response efforts, including personnel costs, clean water supplies, research and testing.

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