Elk River Chemical Spill

Chemical Spill
5:30 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

WV TAP Recommends More Research, Precautions After Research

Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling, Gov. Tomblin and Corona Environmental Consulting President Jeff Rossen spoke to reporters about the WVTAP final reporter Thursday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An independent research team hired by Gov. Tomblin to further study the chemical that contaminated the water supply of 300,00 West Virginians in January released their final report Thursday.

The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WVTAP, began studying MCHM in February and has released results along the way. Thursday’s report includes their previously released findings and recommendations for moving forward.

Read more
Chemical Spill
10:47 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Federal Lawsuit Targets Charleston Airport, Blames Runway Extension for January Spill

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal lawsuit blames a Charleston airport runway project for the January chemical spill that left 300,000 residents without clean water for days.

The lawsuit says Yeager Airport's completed runway extension never safeguarded against stormwater runoff.

In court papers filed Friday, plaintiffs say the airport let water flow to Freedom Industries, where water eroded a tank's foundation.

Read more
6:13 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Deadline Set for Claims in Freedom Bankruptcy Case

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  A federal bankruptcy judge has set an Aug. 1 deadline for financial claims by West Virginia residents and businesses affected by a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the local water supply.

Proof of claims forms can be obtained and filed on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's website. The Charleston Gazette reports business losses must be accompanied by documentation, while residents don't need such documentation for personal damage.

Read more
11:46 am
Wed June 18, 2014

DHHR: Water Plans Might Need More Funds

Credit wikimedia

A Department of Health and Human Resources official says the agency might need additional funding to implement new drinking water safety legislation.

The law requires water systems across the state to craft plans to protect their water supplies. The DHHR's Bureau for Public Health is tasked with overseeing the plans' creation.

The bureau's director of public health regulations, Ann Goldberg, says the bureau projects the program to cost nearly $1.9 million in its first year. The cost is expected to decline in future years.

The Legislature allocated $1.5 million for the bureau's work.

Read more
Chemical Leak
10:12 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Freedom Industries to Remove Contractor Responsible for Stormwater Overflows

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Freedom Industries is ousting the contractor responsible for spills last week at the site of a January leak into the state's biggest drinking water supply.

Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch says the company is transitioning past Civil & Environmental Consultants. The change could take a few weeks.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman on Tuesday urged Freedom to replace the Pittsburgh contractor, which heads site cleanup.

Read more
5:10 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

WV DEP to Freedom Industries: Replace Contractor Responsible for Stormwater Overflows

Credit AP

Regulators are pushing Freedom Industries to oust the contractor responsible for spills last week at the site of a January leak into the state's biggest drinking water supply.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said Tuesday he wants Civil & Environmental Consultants gone. The Pittsburgh contractor heads site cleanup.

Stormwater from a Freedom trench poured into the Elk River Thursday and Friday. Tests at the water treatment plant showed no chemical traces either day.

Huffman says he can urge, not force, Freedom to replace the contractor.

Read more
12:06 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Freedom Industries to Staff Spill Site Around the Clock

Credit AP

The company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply in January will staff the site around the clock to prevent further spills during cleanup.

After spilling stormwater into the Elk River twice last week, Freedom Industries told the Department of Environmental Protection it would keep contractors at its Charleston site 24 hours a day.

Regulators said Thursday's spill sent a small amount of water into the river. A 50-minute overflow occurred Friday during a thunderstorm.

Read more
10:44 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Panel to Discuss West Virginia Explosion, Spill

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

At the July 16 meeting, the board will also update the public on its investigation of a January chemical spill. The Freedom Industries tank leak contaminated drinking for 300,000 people for days.

Read more
10:39 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Citizen Lawsuits in Question in West Virginia Tank Law

Credit AP

  Industry groups are jittery that if state regulators require the wrong type of permit, companies could be subject to citizen lawsuits under a new environmental law regulating storage tanks.

State regulators disagree, and are convinced the law doesn't let citizens sue to enforce it.

The aboveground tank law calls for new inspections, registrations, inventories and other regulations. State lawmakers omitted a citizen-lawsuit option while crafting the law.

Read more
10:51 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Updated: WV DEP Reports Second Overflow at Freedom, Violations Issued for Both Incidents

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 11:12 p.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says Freedom Industries failed for a second straight day to prevent a stormwater collection trench overflow at the site along the Elk River. The incident follows a similar overflow of stormwater discovered Thursday.

The DEP says Friday’s discharge coincided with a heavy downpour of rain at around 5 p.m. and lasted nearly an hour before being brought under control through increased pumping.

“To have this happen twice in two days is outrageous and unacceptable," said DEP Secretary Randy Huffman in a news release issued Friday night.

Notices of Violation are being issued for Friday’s discharge as well. They will include a mandate that Freedom respond by noon Saturday with an outline of how the system will be redesigned to prevent future overflows.

"Freedom and its environmental consultant should have a system in place to handle heavy rainfall. If a better system is not implemented immediately, the DEP will take action to bring in a more responsible contractor to handle it,” said Huffman.

Two notices of violation were issued for Thursday’s incident. One for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet and another for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of an order to implement an approved sump management plan.

West Virginia American Water, which has a drinking water intake a mile and a half downstream, has been notified and will be collecting samples of raw water coming into the plant intake as well as treated water. Initial results are expected late Friday night.

Testing of raw and treated water samples after Thursday's discharge came back at non-detectable levels.

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 4:50 p.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued two Notices of Violation Friday to Freedom Industries following the overflow of a stormwater collection trench meant to keep rainwater that has come into contact with potentially contaminated soil from entering the Elk River.

According to a news release issued Friday afternoon, one of the violations is for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet. The second is for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of a prior order to implement an approved sump management plan.

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 11:40 a.m.

  The DEP says in a news release that results from a second set of test samples on water analyzed following an overflow of stormwater at the Freedom Industries spill site into the Elk River have come back showing non-detectable levels of MCHM. These results follow earlier test results released by West Virginia American Water that also showed non-detectable levels of the material. The news release says the latest results, which came from Research Environmental & Industrial Consultants Inc., also known as REIC Labs, were for four samples of raw water and four samples of treated water from West Virginia American Company’s Charleston plant, the intake for which is about a mile and a half downstream of the spill site.  The DEP says the samples were delivered to the Beaver lab last night and results came this morning. The testing was unable to detect MCHM at 2 parts per billion. 

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 9:40 a.m.

In a news release, West Virginia American Water says overnight test results continue to show no detection of MCHM in water at the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant. A total of six samples of raw (river) and treated water taken at the plant at different times before 10 p.m. were tested for MCHM overnight. All results show no detection.  

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 1:17 a.m.

West Virginia American Water says in a news release that initial tests of raw (river) and treated water at their facility show no traces of MCHM.

The water company announced Thursday they had just finished changing the last of carbon filters at the treatment plant after beginning the process on April 1. The filters were changed after testing by an independent research group known as WV TAP indicated the filters were leaching MCHM into the water supply.

The water company says additional test results will come overnight. They say staff members are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with the Bureau for Public Health and the DEP.

Original Post from Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 10:51 p.m.

According to a news release, a DEP inspector noticed water overflowing from a containment trench at the site of the Freedom Industries cleanup. The news release says a pump in place to handle overflow to a storage tank stopped working, and the inspector restarted the pump, which stopped the overflow.

The DEP says it isn’t yet clear if the water entering the river contained any amount of crude MCHM — the material spilled at the site back on January 9. Samples of the water are being collected from the trench. Additional samples are also being collected downstream at West Virginia American Water Company’s intake, as well as treated water. The DEP says those samples will be tested at multiple labs, with results expected by Friday morning.

Read more
Chemical Spill
5:56 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

West Virginia American Water: Filter Replacement Complete, No Trace of MCHM

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water has replaced its filters and no longer detects chemicals that spilled into its water distribution system in January.

A news release Thursday says the utility has only used new filters since May 23, when it removed the last of 16 filters tainted in the spill.

Results returned Thursday showed no chemical traces in water heading to people's homes and businesses.

Read more
12:30 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Freedom Industries Tank Demolition to Begin Before End of June

Credit AP

Demolition of the steel tanks at the Freedom Industries tank farm along the Elk River is expected to begin before the end of the month.

Gov. Tomblin ordered  the tanks to be dismantled two weeks after the chemical spill in January. Because Freedom has filed for bankruptcy, all of the company’s financial transactions have to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. That approval was granted on Friday.

Attorneys and financial advisors for Freedom had hoped the tank dismantling could begin this week. However, obtaining all necessary permits is expected to take a few more weeks.

Read more
Chemical Spill
9:46 am
Wed June 11, 2014

West Virginia Online Tank Registration Now Open

Credit AP

Above-ground storage tanks can now be registered online to comply with a West Virginia law inspired by a January chemical spill.

Owners have to register their tanks on the state Department of Environmental Protection's online registration site by Oct. 1. This will help DEP complete a required inventory of tanks in the state.

DEP estimates tens of thousands of tanks will be affected by the law. Some exemptions exist based on capacity, use and overlapping regulation, among other reasons.

Read more
9:51 am
Tue June 10, 2014

West Virginia Legislative Study Topics Released

Credit Flickr / davidwilson1949

West Virginia lawmakers will study 76 wide-ranging topics in committee meetings that lead up to their annual legislative session in January.

This year's interim committee topics include a study on the craft beer business, possible commuter rail service and a possible tax break for coal producers selling to in-state buyers who increase their purchases.

They will also delve into contamination issues with water supplies and feasibility of toughening campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Read more
Chemical Spill
10:32 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Researchers Recommend Testing of 720 Homes Affected by Elk River Spill

An independent research group suggests sampling water in 720 West Virginia homes for a chemical that spilled into the water supply in January.

Researchers from the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WV TAP, say that number of homes would be "statistically defensible" in determining whether affected households are chemical-free.

The group sampled 10 homes in February for crude MCHM using state taxpayer dollars. Each contained chemical traces, but the concentrations were about 675 times weaker than what federal officials call safe to drink. The report says levels of the chemical have continued to decline since the spill.

Read more
West Virginia Morning
9:37 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Diversifying with Solar, Monongahela National Forest Gets Help to Combat Threats, & More

A Shepherdstown-based company looks to diversify West Virginia's economy by focusing on solar energy. The Monongahela National Forest gets a new federal designation to help combat insects and disease. Also, a Brooklyn, New York-based theatre company will soon brings a production to Charleston with hopes to open the public's eyes after the Elk River Chemical Spill.

Arts and Culture
2:40 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Water Crisis Brings Theater Event to Charleston

Public Access Dock in Porters Hollow
Credit Liz McCormick

Theater has often been a means to convey a particular message. Since ancient times, it has been used to teach lessons, understand important events, tell stories, and provide entertainment for its audience, and one company comes to Charleston this summer to start a dialogue with West Virginia…about water.

Read more
Chemical Spill
12:33 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Judge Denies Some Attorney Reimbursements in Freedom Bankruptcy Case

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A judge won't let the West Virginia company at the center of a January chemical spill reimburse its legal team for sending multiple lawyers to hearings or for travel costs.

Read more
Chemical Spill
3:01 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Judge OKs Demolition of West Virginia Spill Site

Credit AP

A bankruptcy judge has initially approved plans for the company at the center of a January chemical spill to demolish its storage tanks.

Read more
Chemical Spill
11:15 am
Wed May 28, 2014

West Virginia Storage Tank Website Up and Running

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

Members of the public now have full access to comments collected by the state Department of Environmental Protection on a newly passed law. That law requires the DEP to create a regulatory program for above ground storage tanks in order to protect the state’s water.

Read more