Elk River Chemical Spill

Economy
1:19 am
Wed February 26, 2014

State and Local Tourism Evaluate Post-Spill Plans, Conference Participants Leave With No Bad Taste

Michael Guidi of Carr’s Holidays in New York State (left) sits down with Lauren Hunt of the Charleston CVB to discuss travel opportunities for the groups he serves. Guidi wasn't worried about the water in Charleston or how it might affect his decision to bring tourists to the area.
Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With the state eclipsing the $5 billion mark for tourism revenue in 2012, this week’s Travel  South Conference in Charleston gave visitors bureaus across the state a chance to cash in and drive even more tourism opportunities to their respective areas. But the conference comes nearly seven weeks after the spill of thousands of gallons of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries. 

Many locals worry that the tourism economy would, much like the water, be left with a tainted reputation. Tourism professionals from across the country seemed unphased by the water crisis while here and local travel professionals hope the stigma of the spill won’t last. 

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Bankruptcy
4:44 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Few Creditors Question W.Va. Spill Company in Court

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A few of the hundreds of creditors seeking compensation from the company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill questioned top company officials in bankruptcy court.
 
At Tuesday's meeting administered by a U.S. Department of Justice official, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and Chief Financial Officer Terry Cline answered questions on company finances from a federal trustee and fewer than 10 attorneys representing creditors.
 

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Chemical Leak
4:59 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Federal Health Officials Now Calling W.Va. Water 'Safe'

Credit Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

A federal health official says it's safe to use water contaminated by a chemical spill in West Virginia last month.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously labeled the water "appropriate for use" by everybody, but not "safe."
 

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4:52 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

What We Can Learn From West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Water Crisis Coverage

Lead in text: 
While many would argue West Virginians were not lab rats after the Elk River chemical spill and the subsequent water crisis, in some ways, our news team was just that. Without a doubt, news is an ever-evolving platform in the 21st century and, with that in mind, NPR Digital Services breaks down our coverage over the past seven weeks.
  • Source: Npr
  • | Via: NPR Digital Services
When thousands of gallons of a chemical spilled into a river in West Virginia in January, leading to a water crisis that affected over 300,000 people, West
After the Water Crisis
10:49 am
Sun February 23, 2014

What Does the World's Best Water Smell Like? (Hint: It's Not Black Licorice)

Judge Michael Cervin smelling the water at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition
Credit bottledwaterweb.com

When I signed up to be a judge at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, I thought it would just be a bit of fun -- a relaxing weekend in an historic West Virginia mountain spa town.

Then came the water crisis: a massive spill of the coal-cleaning chemical MCHM into our water supply, and more than a week under a “do not use” order.

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Chemical Leak
4:28 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Environmental Official: Coal Companies Don't Want Stigma of MCHM

At the statehouse Friday, members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources continued their hearings on the Elk River chemical spill with testimonies from representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Response Mike Dorsey told lawmakers he’s been working to remediate the site since the initial incident in January.

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Chemical Leak
2:38 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

WV TAP Researchers Say Initial Sample Collection Complete, Need Additional Funds

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The two scientists leading the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WV TAP, following the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston provided an update on the project Friday. The briefing was held in a Department of Health and Human Resources conference room in downtown Charleston.

Dr. Andrew Whelton and Jeffrey Rosen spoke to reporters and said they have completed gathering samples of 10 homes across the area affected. Samples from both hot and cold water were taken.

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Chemical Spill
1:31 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Freedom Industries Winding Down Operations

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill is selling the rest of its chemicals, helping employees find new jobs and winding down operations.

Saying the small company's problems exceed its size, attorney Mark Freedlander announced Freedom Industries' plans in federal bankruptcy court Friday. The company won't use up to $4 million the court had permitted Freedom to borrow to keep running.

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The Legislature Today
6:54 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Drug Overdose Protection, False Claims Act, & Dr. Rahul Gupta on the Need for Medical Monitoring

The Senate amends a bill that would protect those seeking emergency medical attention for someone else experiencing a drug overdose and also discusses a bill that aims to reduce the variance gas prices across the state. The House  Judiciary Committee takes another look at the False Claims Act. Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department talks medical monitoring and Gov. Tomblin's request to the CDC for more studies on the chemicals involved in the Jan. 9 chemical spill.

Chemical Leak
6:26 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

WVAM Using More Rigorous Water Testing Standard

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

A news release from West Virginia American Water Thursday said all points of testing throughout the water distribution system show levels of MCHM below 10 parts per billion.

Crude MCHM is the chemical that leaked from a Freedom Industries site on the Elk River contaminating the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians in 9 counties.

The 10 ppb threshold was established by a state interagency team based on the measuring capabilities of multiple laboratories used during the response to the Jan. 9 spill.

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Chemical Leak
6:08 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Department of Education Says Gov. Tomblin Taking Proactive Steps to Ensure Student Safety

Credit West Virginia Department of Education

The West Virginia Department of Education said through a news release that they are working with the West Virginia National Guard following a directive from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin has called for additional water testing to confirm that all schools in the counties impacted by the chemical leak on Jan. 9 are under 2 parts per billion (ppb).

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4:18 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Parents Still Concerned About Water in Schools After Elk River Spill

Lead in text: 
After smells of licorice, reported symptoms of burning eyes and noses, as well as positive tests of MCHM in recent weeks, tensions remain high over the safety of children after the Jan. 9 spill. Mackenzie Mays of The Charleston Gazette reports that many parents of children in Kanawha County schools are wondering how long schools will provide bottled water and how effective the new "rapid response team" has been. These concerns were the highlight of the Kanawha County Board of Education's Wednesday night meeting.
  • Source: Wvgazette
  • | Via: The Charleston Gazette
Parents still concerned about water in schools CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County parents are wondering how the school system will handle ongoing concerns about water safety now that complaints at schools are being fielded by a new "response team" tasked with deciding when to evacuate students.
11:53 am
Thu February 20, 2014

State Costs for Chemical Leak Top $3 Million

Lead in text: 
As Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail reports, state officials estimate the cost of the response to the January 9 chemical spill by Freedom Industries at $3 million. That number does not include costs from county emergency services or local school boards, and not all of it will be reimbursed by FEMA.
State costs for chemical leak top $3 million CHARLESTON, WV -- West Virginia has spent more than $3 million responding to the Freedom Industries chemical spill, according to official estimates. As of Feb. 12, the state has spent $3.04 million - and that doesn't include costs from county emergency services or school boards, said Jimmy Gianato, director of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Bankruptcy
5:23 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Freedom Industries Paid $6 Million to Related Parties

Credit AP

The company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill paid about $6 million to executives and associated companies the year before its bankruptcy declaration.
 
Court documents show $1.1 million went to three former Freedom Industries owners. Two left Freedom after a Dec. 6 merger deal worth $15 million.
 

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Chemical Leak
1:31 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

CDC to Talk with W.Va. About Lab Studies on Spilled Chemicals

Credit Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Federal health experts say they'll talk with West Virginia officials about what lab studies are needed on little-known chemicals that spilled into a water system last month.
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said Wednesday the CDC will reach out to the state about possibly conducting more studies.
 

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Chemical Leak
1:06 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Charleston Mayor Considering In-Home, Business Water Testing

Credit WCHS

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is exploring the city taking on testing of hotels and homes, to "prove to folks that the water is okay if, in fact, it is."

Jones said he doesn't know how many samples would be collected because he is awaiting a report from an Ohio-based company that would outline the cost of testing. He didn't reveal the name of the company. 

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Bankruptcy
12:53 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

W.Va. Company Involved in Chemical Spill Wants Consultants

Credit Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia company involved in last month's chemical spill is heading back to bankruptcy court.
 
Freedom Industries will return to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse for a 10 a.m. hearing Friday. The company wants to hire experts and environmental consultants to assess the circumstances surrounding its Jan. 9 spill.

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The Legislature Today
7:17 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Senate Passes Rx-Only Pseudoephedrine Bill, House Tries to Prevent Layoffs, & Dr. James Phares

The Senate passes a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. Committees in the state legislature's upper house also took up bill pertaining to the budget and drug testing of coal mine employees who work in safety-related positions. Members of the House consider legislation allowing businesses to reduce the number of hours an employee works to avoid layoffs. Also, state Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares talks with Ashton Marra about a teacher hiring bill passed in the House, another bill that would limit the timeline for the state to take control of a county school system, and how schools are ensuring the safety of students after the Jan. 9 spill into the Elk River.

Chemical Leak
6:50 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Gov. Tomblin, DHHR Secretary Request CDC to Conduct Further Health Studies After Spill

Dr. Tanja Popovic, Deputy Associate Director for Science for the CDC addresses the media at a news conference on Wednesday, February 5.
Credit Chuck Roberts / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling Tuesday sent a letter to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to formally request the CDC, or its partners, immediately conduct further epidemiological and/or toxicological studies and address ongoing population surveillance or monitoring as a result of the January 9 Elk River chemical spill.

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4:08 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Freedom Paid Millions to Leaders, Related Companies Before Spill, Bankruptcy

Lead in text: 
The Wall Street Journal, on their blog titled Bankruptcy Beat, breaks down millions of dollars doled out to Freedom Industries executives and those at related companies before the January 9 spill and their soon-to-follow bankruptcy filing.
  • Source: Wsj
  • | Via: The Wall Street Journal
In the year before a chemical spill from one of its tanks tainted the water supply for 300,000 people in West Virginia and sent Freedom Industries Inc. into bankruptcy, the three men who owned it took $1.1 million out of the company, much of it in the form of expense reimbursement or consulting fees, according to court filings.

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