Cumberland Times-News

January 25, 2014

Company ordered to remove tanks after W.Va. spill

Tomblin: Work must begin by March 15

JOHN RABY
Associated Press

— CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s governor on Saturday ordered the company at the center of a chemical spill that tainted the state capital’s water supply to remove all above-ground storage tanks from the Charleston operation.

A statement released by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office said Freedom Industries must start the dismantling process by March 15.

The Jan. 9 spill of a chemical used to clean coal at Freedom Industries contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians, some of whom couldn’t use their tap water for a week.

The order to dismantle and properly dispose of the tanks also includes associated piping and machinery. The facility currently has 17 tanks. The governor’s statement said crude MCHM leaked from one of three now-empty tanks containing the chemical at the plant.

All 17 tanks “are located within inadequate secondary containment areas,” the statement said.

Company President Gary Southern told environmental officials earlier in the week that a second, less toxic chemical also was mixed in the tank that leaked.

A telephone message left for Southern wasn’t immediately returned Saturday.

The governor’s directive was included in a consent order issued Friday by the state Department of Environmental Protection and signed by Freedom Industries. The company was already under a previous order to transfer chemicals from the plant. It still has to move nearly 1 million gallons of calcium chloride and glycerin.

“During the dismantling of the tanks, Freedom Industries is ordered to install measures that ensure that secondary containment is adequate to contain any potential spills resulting from the work,” the governor’s statement said. “Secondary containment structures cannot be removed until all above-ground tanks have been dismantled and removed from the site.”  

According to the governor’s statement, Freedom Industries must provide the DEP with reports detailing the disposition of the materials removed from the tanks.