Elk River Chemical Spill

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.

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.

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.

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.

Freedom Industries
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.

Freedom Industries

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

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
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.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

A Capitol police officer is appealing his firing over a post he made on Facebook.

The Public Employees Grievance Board has scheduled a grievance hearing for Douglas Day on June 10.

The Charleston Gazette reports that Day was fired on Feb. 6. Three days earlier, he wrote a Facebook post about a protest at the Capitol over the state's response to a Jan. 9 chemical spill.

Freedom Industries

In a letter to Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, federal health officials say they thought their drinking water standard established after the Elk River chemical spill would have protected West Virginias from other forms of contact. 

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says drinking the contaminated water was the primary exposure they were concerned with when forming their safety threshold. CDC director Thomas Frieden says consumption was associated with the most significant health effects.

West Virginia American Water
Foo Conner / Flickr

  The state Public Service Commission has ordered an investigation into West Virginia American Water's response to the Jan. 9 chemical spill in Charleston.

The PSC said Wednesday the focus of its investigation will be on whether the company's reaction to the spill and presence of the coal-cleaning agent MCHM was "unreasonable or inadequate."

Among other things, the PSC has ordered the company to provide an account of actions it took starting when it became aware of the Jan. 9 spill at the Freedom Industries plant along the Elk River.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Federal officials have denied Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's appeal seeking a major disaster declaration for a January chemical spill that contaminated the water supply in nine counties.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate says in a letter to Tomblin that a review affirmed the agency's earlier decision to deny Tomblin's request for a declaration. The letter says the event doesn't meet the legal definition of a major disaster.

As Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail reports, MCHM--the same chemical involved in a January spill that tainted the water supply of some 300,000 West Virginians--has been found in discharges from three coal prep plants in the state: Delbarton Mining in Mingo County, Wolfrun Mining in Barbour County, and Marfork Coal near the border of Boone and Raleigh counties.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bankruptcy judge is expected to approve Freedom Industries' request to sell its Poca Blending facility unless a better bid is submitted by Friday afternoon.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson found the proposed buyer, Lexycon LLC, doesn't have any connection to Freedom or its former controlling officers. Pearson also said the sale's terms and conditions, and the negotiations, weren't inappropriate.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 The company at the center of a January chemical spill in West Virginia is returning to bankruptcy court.

Several motions by Freedom Industries will be heard Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Charleston.

The company responsible for the chemical leak has asked a judge for approval to pay $1.9 million for work completed by various lawyers and consultants. A subsequent court filing proposes ways to reduce those costs.

Kanawha County residents last night got a better understanding of how the January 9th chemical spill affected the community  as results from a scientific survey were released. A competition on Concord University’s campus sprang folks into walking more than 42,000,000 steps, the equivalent of going across the United States almost 6 ½ times. Efforts continue to help save Hemlock trees in Preston County's Cranesville Swamp from an invasive insect.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Kanawha County residents got a better understanding of the impacts of the January 9 chemical spill on their community Monday evening as results from a scientific survey were released.

Those results show some surprising numbers when it comes to how people found out about the do not use ban, if they ignored instructions and how the spill itself effected not just their health, but also their wallets.

Foo Conner / Flickr

The process to change out 16 activated carbon filters is now half complete at West Virginia American Water’s Charleston filtration plant. That change comes after the January 9th chemical spill into the Elk River, the source of intake for the plant.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department plans the release of the results of their survey that attempts to gauge the impact of the Elk River chemical spill. Sylvia Mathew Burwell faces her first Senate confirmation hearing on her way to become the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Former West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Anna Sale launches a new podcast that attempts to tackle the issues we all deal with but rarely discuss. Also, Solas performs "Am I Born to Die" on thjis Mountain Stage song of the week.

Freedom Industries

A bankruptcy judge is concerned that a company responsible for a West Virginia chemical spill wants to sell remaining property to a company tied to former executives.

Freedom Industries has filed a motion to sell chemicals and property at a leased secondary facility, Poca Blending in Nitro, to Lexycon LLC.

Lexycon President Kevin Skiles and independent consultant Dennis Farrell are former Freedom executives. Lexycon was formed in Florida in March.

Dr. Rahul Gupta and Del. Cindy Frich appeared on Wednesday, May 7's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Based simply on the titles of the segments from Wednesday's show, you can probably guess in which one they appear.