The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

January 28, 2014

Chemical leak damage increased

DEP says actual amount unknown

CHARLESTON — The company behind a chemical spill that contaminated the water supply of 300,000 people now estimates some 10,000 gallons of chemicals leaked, up from an earlier figure of 7,500 gallons, state regulators said Monday.

West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection released the new figure Monday from Freedom Industries regarding the scope of a Jan. 9 leak from a plant in Charleston. The agency emphasized it’s still unknown how much of the leaked chemical mix, including a coal-cleaning agent, actually spilled into the Elk River.

Residents in nine counties had to stop using tap water for days, except for flushing toilets.

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said the revised estimate was in response to a previous order from the state agency about the quantity of chemicals released.

“We are not making any judgment about its accuracy,” Huffman said. “We felt it was important to provide to the public what the company has provided the WVDEP in writing. We are still reviewing the calculation and this is something that will be researched further during the course of this investigation.”

After the initial leak, Freedom Industries later said a second chemical was mixed with the coal-cleaning agent that spilled. The DEP said Freedom Industries indicates it has recovered about 1,272 gallons of the chemical mixture at the plant.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Saturday ordered Freedom to remove all 17 of its above-ground storage tanks.

On Monday, Tomblin urged federal officials to change the state’s emergency declaration, which would provide funding for local and state entities that responded to the recent water shortage. The revised request would benefit state and local governments, first responders and nonprofits that offered water and other resources after the chemical spill.

Tomblin wrote to federal disaster officials that it cost state and local responders more than $2 million for their work. The state also is paying 25 percent of already approved federal assistance.

The governor also is requesting low-interest federal loans for businesses that lost money during the water-use ban.

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West Virginia
  • Symptoms match with spilled chemical

    For two weeks following a January chemical spill into the public water supply, hundreds of West Virginians examined in emergency rooms had ailments consistent with exposure to the chemical, health officials said Wednesday.
    Federal toxic substance experts and the state Bureau for Public Health stopped short of saying that their analysis determined without a doubt that patients’ problems stemmed from chemical contact.

    April 24, 2014

  • West Virginia chemical safe level following spill based on two weeks

    When federal officials decided what chemical levels West Virginians could safely consume in water tainted by a January spill, their standard assumed people would be exposed for two weeks, not 100-plus days.

    April 23, 2014

  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

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