The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

January 25, 2014

Official: Freedom knew of second chemical

Did not let state government know until days after spill

CHARLESTON — The company at the center of the West Virginia water crisis immediately knew a second chemical leaked from its plant into the Elk River, and told its workers in an email, according to a state environmental official.

However, Freedom Industries did not let state government officials know about the second chemical until days after the spill. And state environmental department official Mike Dorsey said most company employees did not skim far enough into the email to see that information.

It’s unclear who sent the email or how many of the company’s 51 employees it reached.

“The explanation I was given was that they had the information on the very first day,” said Dorsey, chief of the state environmental agency’s homeland security and emergency response division. “It was in an email that was being shared among company employees, but no one read far enough down the page to see that.”

Freedom Industries President Gary Southern showed Dorsey the email Wednesday.

“(Southern) remarked that it should’ve been brought to his attention but wasn’t,” Dorsey wrote in an email Friday.

A chemical used to clean coal spilled from the tank into the river Jan. 9. About 300,000 people couldn’t drink or bathe in the water for almost a week. Southern told environmental officials this week that a second, less toxic chemical also was mixed in the tank.

A call to Freedom Industries was not immediately returned Friday.

Those are the only chemicals that spilled, the company wrote to state regulators Thursday. The state tested for the second chemical, stripped PPH, at the water plant and scoured older tests for the substance, but found no traces. Testing will continue.

A top investigator with the Chemical Safety Board also weighed in on the spill in front of a state legislative water policy committee Friday. The federal board is one of many government entities investigating the Charleston spill.

Investigator Johnnie A. Banks said it will likely take a year until the board produces a report with findings. The panel can, however, set up public meetings to share periodic updates. The meetings would take place in Charleston, he said.

When state environmental inspectors showed up at Freedom Industries Jan. 9, they described a chemical, crude MCHM, oozing from the pierced tank through a cracked containment wall into the river.

Banks, whose team arrived Jan. 13, said a hard freeze might have helped create the 1-inch hole in the tank that leaked, which Freedom Industries has theorized.

“There was nothing that jumped out at you that said this containment was inadequate or that the tank is going to fail,” Banks told reporters.

On Tuesday, Freedom Industries reached a bankruptcy court deal for up to $4 million in credit from a lender to help continue operations, an attorney said.

The bankruptcy filing freezes dozens of lawsuits against Freedom Industries. Many are by local businesses owners who say they lost money during a water-use ban that lasted several days.

Under state orders, the company still needs to relocate almost 1 million gallons of other chemicals at its Charleston plant.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Woman convicted in teen’s slaying moved

    A Monongalia County teenager has been transferred to a state prison to complete her sentence for the slaying of another teenager.
    The Lakin Correctional Center near Point Pleasant said Friday Rachel Shoaf has been booked at the Division of Corrections prison. Shoaf turned 18 last month and had been held in a juvenile facility.

    July 26, 2014

  • Board suspends clinic operator’s license

    A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.

    July 26, 2014

  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

  • Cornhole champions being decided in Charleston

    Cornhole, the strange-sounding game made popular in backyards and at football tailgate parties, is taking on a serious side this week.
    The American Cornhole Organization will crown its world champions as about 380 competitors from 17 states vie for $10,000 in prize money in singles and doubles events.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads