You remember that time that Freedom Industries contaminated the drinking water of over 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties, then filed for bankruptcy in what many consider an obvious effort to evade civil suits relating to the company’s irresponsibility? Or when the water company declared the water safe to drink, only to lead to numerous new hospitalizations? Yeah…good times.
The fun’s not over yet! As we’ve recently discovered, thanks to a Wheeling Jesuit University ecologist, residents will be dealing with drinking water issues for some time — on their own, as Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy, having obtained financing from Mountaineer Funding LLC (it’s only right, as both are owned by the same person). This allows the company to masterfully avoid many financial responsibilities normally related to numerous pending, incredibly justified civil suits.
Well, it seems that the crude 4-MCHM that caused residents’ water to have side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, blisters and burns it also contained another chemical — potentially up to 300 gallons of a product called “PPH,” which consists of polyglycol ethers.
According to state officials, Freedom Industries has informed investigators of the presence of the additional chemical, prompting additional testing of the water to confirm claims made by West Virginia American Water (yes, the company that filled relief trucks with contaminated water) that the chemical would be removed by the normal filtering process. Spokesperson Laura Jordan said that the company “described in detail our water treatment process with state chemical experts, who ascertained that our current treatment process would likely have removed this chemical.” She did not say if these were the same chemical experts who incorrectly declared the water fit for human consumption.
According to information provided by Freedom Industries, “PPH” has “low oral toxicity.” Glycol ethers which are commonly seen in paints, perfumes, varnishes, paints, and cleaning compounds, according to the EPA’s web site, can (at low levels) cause nausea, headaches, conjunctivitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract. At high levels, they can cause severe liver and kidney damage and narcosis.