Elk River Chemical Spill

Ashton Marra

National Guard teams from West Virginia and neighboring states are carrying out a massive water testing campaign following the chemical spill that polluted the water supply for 300,000 people.
 
     Nearly 40 civil support team members from the Virginia and West Virginia National Guard were taking samples this week to test for contaminants in water supplied by West Virginia American Water.
 

The House of Delegates passes a bill known as "Felicity's Law", which would allow for the euthanization of an animal that causes harm to a person. Senator Herb Snyder introduces a bill meant to repeal a section of code giving discounts to gasoline wholesalers and the Senate Finance Committee hears a budget presentation from the Division of Corrections. Also, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant talks about the looming deadline for the candidate filing period for the 2014 election, as well as the bill which would provide emergency funding to small businesses in the event of a disaster.

Former coal miner Joe Stanley says he lost his job after a conflict with management, when he, as union president, demanded to know more about the chemicals that were being used in the mine. "I watched the coal industry poison our water for years. Now they're telling us not to drink the water? We've been dumping this stuff into unlined ponds and into old mines for years," he says. One of those chemicals, Stanley says, was MCHM.

Foo Conner / Flickr

The Public Service Commission's Consumer Advocate Division wants the agency to continue requiring West Virginia American Water to submit quarterly reports on service quality.
 
A 2011 order issued by the PSC requires the company to submit the reports through the fourth quarter of 2013. The Consumer Advocate Division asked the PSC on Wednesday to continue the requirement until further notice.
 

Office of the Governor

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he was unaware he received campaign checks from top executives at the company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill.
 
     The Democrat said he found about donations from two Freedom Industries executives from news articles Wednesday morning.
 

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As the legislature continues to work on how to deal with the effects of the chemical spill, the House of Delegates looked at proposed legislation dealing with future disasters in terms of preparedness and flood insurance.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security discussed House Bill 4147. The bill deals with what can be done in a State of Preparedness.

Ashton Marra

House Bill 4175, The West Virginia Emergency Small Business Act, has two basic provisions.

The first gives the governor authority to direct the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to write emergency rules. Those rules would allow the state to provide some form of monetary assistance to small businesses during a declared State of Emergency.

Scott Finn / Twitter: @radiofinn

The President of Downstream Strategies is in Charleston presenting his organization’s report on the Elk River chemical spill to lawmakers. Meanwhile, lawmakers are debating a proposal from Gov. Tomblin. Hansen is concerned about some aspects of the bill.

Perry Bennett / Flickr

Hundreds braved bad weather to gather at the state’s capitol to rally in response to the Elk River chemical spill. The solidarity stretched across the state, the country and perhaps around the world with other small group and private vigils. Pictures from various events flowed through social media channels.

*Special thanks to Steve Schmidt who collected sound for that segment from the Capitol last night.

West Virginia Legislature

A West Virginia Senate leader thinks the governor's proposal to prevent chemical spills caters to industry interests.
 

Senate Majority Leader John Unger says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's bill doesn't do enough to register and inspect above-ground storage tanks.
 
     Tomblin's measure responds to Freedom Industries' Jan. 9 spill, which contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people.
 

C. W. Sigman

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued a new order to Freedom Industries Wednesday, less than a day after it was discovered another chemical--known as PPH--was included in the tank that leaked at the Freedom site.

According to the order, Freedom has until 4 p.m. Wednesday to provide the West Virginia DEP on-site inspector with information that fully describes the composition of materials released into the Elk River almost two weeks ago.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's proposed legislation--including pay raises for teachers and state workers, issues related to transportation, and more--advances through the legislature, the House of Delegates passes a bill that would create a West Virginia Day of Prayer, Morgantown water utility leaders learn lessons from the chemical spill in Charleston, and hundreds gathered at the State Capitol to voice concerns following the chemical leak.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorneys for the company behind West Virginia's chemical spill said in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday that they've secured a deal for up to $4 million in credit to continue operations.

Mark Freelander, an attorney for Freedom, released key details. He said the arrangement reached after an hours-long court hearing would allow Freedom Industries to continue paying its employees and top vendors and also provide funds to cover for environmental cleanup from a Jan. 9 chemical spill in the Elk River.

The House Judiciary Committee holds an informational meeting to hear more about the chemical spill and hears recommendations from Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen, the Governor's legislative agenda pushes through the Senate, the House passes a bill to create a West Virginia Day of Prayer, and Judiciary Chairs Sen. Corey Palumbo and Del. Tim Manchin respond to arguments that West Virginia is "anti-regulation."

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As Ken Ward of The Charleston Gazette reports, officials with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board say a product known as "PPH" was included in the the January 9 spill.

Governor Tomblin explains proposed legislation to protect water supplies from potential chemical leaks,  the House of Delegates passes a bill that increases penalties for littering and honors the life of former Delegate Joe Talbott, environmental consultants Downstream Strategies critique proposed legislation that hopes to prevent another water crisis, and the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind updates their curriculum and allows some students to attend on a temporary basis.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin joins Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and other state legislative leaders to discuss proposed state and federal legislation following the January 9th chemical spill, the Senate expresses concerns over the small business recovery bill passed by the House last week, the House passes a bill to increase penalties for littering, and Finance Chairs Sen. Roman Prezioso and Del. Brent Boggs discuss various aspects of the state's finances.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

Jennie Jane Hargrove

Many residents affected by the Elk River chemical spill contend that their water is still not safe to drink. Groups across the world are organizing candlelight vigils in response to the Elk River chemical spill, "in solidarity with West Virginians; to honor and protect all water."

In an email, environmental groups such as Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and Keepers of the Mountains invited others to attend a vigil in Charleston and encouraged people to start their own.

Ashton Marra

After more than a week since a chemical spill on the Elk River, some West Virginia American Water customers are still questioning the quality of the water running out of their taps.

“Make no mistake, the discharge of chemicals or other contaminants is unacceptable and neither I nor anyone standing here with me today will tolerate it in West Virginia,” Governor Tomblin said after he thanked the people of West Virginia for their patience as he and emergency officials worked to restore water service to more than 300,000 West Virginians.

Graphic Detailing the Elk River zone of critical concern, from downstream strategies new report.
Downstream Strategies

Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen has worked on a report called "The Freedom Industries Spill: Lessons Learned and Needed Reforms." Hansen says new regulations on storage facilities, like the one involved in the Elk River spill, are only a first step towards prevention.

Hansen also suggests:

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