One might assume that Freedom Industries has learned something after causing one of the worst chemical spills in West Virginia’s history. Of course, that assumption would be incorrect. The company, which enjoyed “freedom” from EPA regulations, was responsible for spilling thousands of gallons of crude MCHM into WV’s Elk River.
The licorice-scented chemical, while not lethal unless ingested in large quantities, can cause non-stop vomiting, diarrhea, blisters, burning in the throat, and other issues. While the water was declared “safe,” many residents disagreed with the official story. In February, denizens of Charleston told AATTP that the licorice smell persisted, and the water was still largely unusable.
The Koch-affiliated Freedom Crew, concerned with profits rather than the plight of the peasantry, took the easy way out. The company filed for bankruptcy under suspicious circumstances–something that is, in a manner, unsurprising given the criminal element that runs the company.
Freedom Industries is now responsible for another spill into the Elk River. One of the geniuses at the chemical plant set a float at too high of a level, which caused a sump pump to not turn on when it should have, according to WV Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Kelley Gillenwater.
“Right away, we have demanded the pump be set at a lower level and there be more oversight and monitoring,” Gillenwater said. “We are evaluating our internal procedures as far as protocols go to see if we need to make any changes.”
DEP officials have determined that the leak lasted about 50 minutes before crews were able to control it. The DEP issued two violations to the company. The first was for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet. The second was for failure to comply with terms and conditions of a prior order to implement a sump management plan.
So far, West Virginia American Water, who previously failed to notify residents of the initial spill for nearly a full day, says there is no sign that this leak caused more MCHM to enter the river. “At this point there’s no confirmation there was any MCHM in the water, at our intakes or anywhere in the treatment (process),” WVAWC’s Laura Jordan said.
“No odors were reported to us by DEP from the water that overflowed the trench,” she said. “Of course, we’re constantly monitoring the situation.
The spill was discovered at around 5 p.m. on Thursday when a DEP inspector noticed that the sump pump, which should have pumped water to a storage tank, had stopped working. Once the pump was restarted, the spill was halted.
Samples of the water were sent to 14 different facilities, which found detectable levels of crude MCHM in the runoff ditch, but none was detected in the intake area for West Virginia American Water or in treated water that leaves the plant.
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