Energy & Environment

Dumping Frack Waste in Landfills Worries Some Officials

Feb 11, 2014
state capitol
wikimedia / Wikimedia

A bill recently introduced in the West Virginia legislature would place into state code a rule allowing Marcellus Shale drilling frack waste material to be disposed of in landfills around the state.

Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority Chairman Clint Hogbin expressed serious concerns about landfill capacity and local control.

The Division of Environmental Protection has issued a memo that exempts frack waste from tonnage caps authorized for each landfill. 



Is the water safe to drink? As we've just heard, that's the question still plaguing hundreds of thousands of West Virginians who live in and around Charleston. I spoke earlier today with the other U.S. senator from West Virginia, the senior senator, Democrat Jay Rockefeller.

Senator Rockefeller, welcome to the program.

SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Melissa. I wouldn't drink that water if you paid me.

BLOCK: Really? Well, that was my first question, would you drink the water? And you say no.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Officials in Charleston, West Virginia, testified today that the water there is now suitable for drinking and bathing, but nobody seemed ready or willing to call it safe. The testimony came at a field hearing held by members of Congress one month after a chemical in spill in the Elk River tainted the water for some 300,000 people. NPR's Brian Naylor was there today and he filed this report.

Appalachian Power is planning an $80 million upgrade to its service in southern West Virginia.

The company plans to remove 35 miles of existing 88 kilo-volt transmission line as well as two substations.

Plans call for making improvements to some existing substations, rebuilding and upgrading about 17 miles of an existing transmission line and replacing wood tower structures with steel towers.

@chemsafetyboard / Twitter

Tanks at the facility that spilled chemicals into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply were deemed out of federal compliance three months before the leak.
     U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso told a congressional panel Monday that Freedom Industries ordered its own review of its tanks last October.

The Allegheny Front speaks with news director Beth Vorhees about the latest on the Elk River chemical spill and where we are one month later.

Appalachian Power says small business owners are the target of a scam seeking to extort cash.

The power company says reports of the scam are coming from its West Virginia customers, but it says its customers in Virginia and Tennessee are also likely to be targeted.

The scam works this way:

It was evolution versus creationism during a high profile debate in Kentucky.

Contaminated water is still a hot topic in West Virginia and we have a primer on testing it.

Regulating gas drilling has been a concern for a long time and there are lessons to learn from the past.

And it’s a good year to pick up the sport of snowshoeing.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

Two West Virginia government agencies have been accused of ignoring steps that could have taken to prevent the Jan. 9 chemical spill which tainted the drinking water supply for residents in nine counties.

The Charleston Gazette reports an emergency petition was filed Friday with the state Supreme Court on behalf of two nonprofit groups and two Charleston-area residents.

Four weeks after the spill from Freedom Industries, test results from one school in West Virginia shows traces of MCHM.

A sink at George Washington High School that had a sample gathered Thursday, February 6 tested at 0.018 ppm. This level remains below the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended threshold of 1 parts per million.

Test results from 13 other schools being tested show non-detect levels of MCHM.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing Monday morning in Charleston to learn more about the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River that left 300,000 people banned from using tap water for up to 10 days.

The witness list included the president of West Virginia American Water, state health, homeland security and environmental officials, the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and county emergency and homeland security officials.

Freedom Industries President Gary Southern was invited but did not attend.

Raymond Thompson / WVU

West Virginia University researchers say, in an effort to fulfill their land-grant institution mission of serving communities in the state, they stepped up to begin a research project to study the Elk River Chemical spill. University funds as well as a grant from the National Science Foundation have provided seed money to immediately collect perishable data to conduct this study.

Lead Researchers:

Kanawha County Commission
Kanawha County Commission

The Kanawha County Commission and the City of Charleston have announced bulk water distribution sites for Friday, February 7th through Sunday, February 9th.


  • Crossing Mall – Elkview
  • Walmart Parking Lot – Quincy
  • Shawnee Park – Institute
  • Old Big Sandy Parking Lot – Cross Lanes
  • Big Lots Parking Lot –Patrick Street – Charleston

The Kanawha County Commission says bulk water tankers and buffaloes will remain at locations each day until 5:00 p.m. due to temperatures which are expected to drop below freezing nightly. 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has announced a field hearing in Charleston on West Virginia's chemical spill. The meeting will take place Monday at 9 a.m. at the Kanawha County Courthouse.

The witness list includes the president of West Virginia American Water, state health officials, homeland security and environmental officials, the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and county emergency officials.

Freedom Industries President Gary Southern has been invited. His attendance has not been confirmed.

A Wacky and Wild Winter in West Virginia

Feb 6, 2014
Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s going through a tough winter. Not just because several places have endured record low temperatures,  but also because it’s on pace to get more than usual amounts of snowfall.

West Virginia's lowlands are on pace to get higher than normal amounts of snowfall this year, according to Joe Merchant, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Merchant adds however, that some of the highest elevations are receiving about the same amounts of snowfall as expected.


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is evaluating options to test tap water in people's homes after last month's chemical spill.
     After the Jan. 9 chemical spill, officials have based testing at the West Virginia American Water treatment plant and various other spots across the affected region.

Two West Virginia schools closed early because of an odor resembling the chemical that spilled into a regional water system last month.
     Riverside High and Midland Trail Elementary in Kanawha County closed Wednesday morning because of the licorice smell.
     The chemical wasn't detected in previous testing.

Chuck Roberts / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was joined Wednesday by state officials as well as officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency to provide an update to the ongoing response to the January 9 chemical spill by Freedom Industries into the Elk River.

Here's what we learned from the briefing:

1. The 1 parts per million threshold for MCHM doesn't declare the water "safe."

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Tomblin Wednesday afternoon joined members of the state and federal team involved in efforts following the January 9 chemical spill into the Elk River and water crisis that followed. Tomblin, along with officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state agencies, provided an update on what has been accomplished, the current status of spill response, and the actions the team plans to take moving forward.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Thousands of gallons of the chemical that spilled into 300,000 people's water supply are leaving West Virginia and heading to Pennsylvania.
     Freedom Industries expected to move 3,500 gallons of crude MCHM from its Nitro facility to a coal facility in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.