Elk River Chemical Spill

A West Virginia homeland security official thinks responders for a Jan. 9 chemical spill into the water supply could receive $2 million in federal help.
 
Homeland security official Greg Myers says the estimate covers state and local agencies, and select nonprofits, like volunteer fire departments. He says the total could grow.
 

Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water said new tests show no signs of MCHM from water filtered through two newly replaced carbon filters.

The company began changing out the 16 activated carbon filters in the Charleston plant on April 1.

In a release this Monday, WVAM said 16 water samples taken throughout the filtration process at that location returned non-detect levels of MCHM.

The results came from Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, Inc. in Lancaster, Pa., which WVAM said is testing the water at the 0.38 parts per billion level.

@chemsafetyboard / Twitter

Freedom Industries has submitted its remediation plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection to address environmental conditions at the company’s Charleston storage tank facility. The facility was the site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill of MCHM and PPH into the Elk River. 

The site remediation plan was developed by Civil & Environmental Consultants, a Pennsylvania-based firm also responsible for Freedom's tank decommissioning plan submitted to the DEP in March. It includes a summary of water quality sampling and remedial measures Freedom Industries has already implemented at the spill site.

Freedom Industries
AP

Wastewater containing a chemical that spilled into the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians is heading to Ohio and North Carolina.
 
State Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says Freedom Industries started sending wastewater to an Ohio underground injection control well site this week.
 
The material was vacuumed out of Freedom's tanks and the Elk River. Freedom was storing it at its Nitro facility.
 

Federal officials have approved a funding request by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin related to the January chemical spill in Charleston.
 
But Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate refused to consider the event a "major disaster."
 

Freedom Industries
AP

Federal investigators will start cutting up tanks for evidence at the site of the chemical spill that tainted the drinking water supply in nine West Virginia counties.

Chemical Safety Board spokeswoman Hillary Cohen says on April 24 the agency plans to begin removing parts of three Freedom Industries tanks. Each contained the same coal-cleaning chemicals, crude MCHM and PPH.

Kanawha Charleston Health Department

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department plans to join the city of Charleston in suing over a Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated 300,000 West Virginians' water supply.
 
County Health Department board members voted Tuesday to partner on the lawsuit. The city hasn't filed anything yet.

In January, West Virginia’s Elk River was contaminated by a chemical spill from a nearby coal processing plant, affecting 300,000 local residents. People were without water for days. Now months later, is the water safe to drink? 

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

An attorney says the president of a company that spilled chemicals into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply "bears no fault" for the incident.
 
Gary Southern of Freedom Industries on Friday withdrew an application to get paid for work already completed during bankruptcy proceedings. He wanted Freedom and its insurance to cover his legal fees.
 

Although it’s only the first step in a long road on Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Manchin’s Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act was passed unanimously by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Thursday.

 “He knows full well what happens when a community is upended because some kind of chemical gets into the drinking water supply and he went to work,” said Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer of Calif.

Four years after 29 miners were killed in an explosion at a Raleigh County mine, Upper Big Branch miners' family members and friends discuss what it takes to change a culture focused on production to one with an emphasis on safety. Sen. Joe Manchin's Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act unanimously passes its first stop on a long road on Capitol Hill, and Todd Snider performs "Stomp and Holler" on the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

As Andrea Lannom of the The Charleston Daily Mail reports, Freedom Industries--the company embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings following January's Elk River chemical spill--made more money in February than they anticipated.

Surveys soon to be conducted by local, state, and federal officials will gather data on public health and concerns following the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries into the Elk River.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will hold phone survey and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will conduct a door-to-door questionnaire.

Linda Wertheimer talks to Evan Osnos about his New Yorker piece in which he explores how the coal industry has become a political player in the state, and what that could mean for future regulation.

Taking into consideration dermal and inhalation exposures, as well as ingestion, WV TAP researchers offer a screening level for MCHM eight times as stringent as the CDC's--still yet, they say levels of the chemical in the water below the federal agency's screening level is "safe." Mine safety professors have joined Sen. Joe Manchin in saying they were misrepresented by Don Blankenship's film Upper Big Branch - Never Again. A Marshall County high school senior wins a scholarship by creating a business plan to sell mushrooms.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Independent researchers working together on the taxpayer-funded WV TAP project have already released an expert odor analysis for Crude MCHM, and have delivered the findings of their 10 home testing pilot project. However, the public has repeatedly called for an understanding of potential health effects from the January spill of Crude MCHM by Freedom Industries.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the same day West Virginia American Water workers began changing carbon filters at their Charleston filtration plant, Gov. Tomblin signed a bill designed to prevent future chemical leaks, like the one that affected that company’s customers, from ever happening again.

Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water is beginning the long process of changing water filters that were in place during the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 people.

Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan says the process begins Monday and may take eight weeks or longer. She says only two of the water plant's 16 filters can be changed each week while maintaining service.
 
Residents have expressed concern that these filters have not already been changed. Some have demanded they be changed in letters to the company.

Kanawha County
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Just days after a chemical contaminated the water supply of three hundred thousand West Virginians, officials in Kanawha County officials started assessing their response to the disaster and found there were things they could do better. One of those things, having a more clear way to locate chemical storage sites quickly during an emergency.

Emergency management officials say that project is in its initial phases, but will never fully be complete.

Is the Water Safe Yet?

Mar 31, 2014

In this piece from The Atlantic, Marin Cogan details how little was (and still is) known about MCHM, the chemical spilled into the Elk River by Freedom Industries on January 9 and affected the drinking water of West Virginians across nine counties. The story also highlights failures in policy--from state and federal agencies--such as the Department of Environmental Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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