Toxic Coal Chemical Contaminates WV Water Supply | Freedom Industries Declares Bankrupcy

ComFreedom Industries Storage Tank Springs a Big Toxic Leak Upstream from Charleston, WV Water Intake

4-methylcyclohexane methanolCoal cleaning chemical spill brings state capital to a standstill

UPDATE JAN 17: Freedom Industries’s owner Cliff Forrest – a mining executive – has declared bankrupcy in order to avoid liability in the massive spill that caused hundreds of thousands of West Virginia citizens to be without water for nearly a week. Taxpayers will end up paying the lion’s share of the costs involved, an most business interruption expenses will either be absorbed by the business or pay out from insurance companies. Because regulating dirty industries is toooooo expensive and would cost tooooooo many jobs.

[Freedom Industries, the company whose ruptured chemical storage tank caused a multi day water ban for 300,000 in West Virginia, is exempted from inspections that would have revealed multiple holes in the facility's retaining walls. The 70 year old tanks are not regulated because they are for storage and not for production. You might call it a Republican loophole.

The chemicals were manufactured by Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. The president of Free Industries says the chemicals weren't really very toxic. Right. They are used to clean the sulfur off of coal. It's like, dish washing liquid, right?]

On Friday, Jan 10 approximately 300,000 people found themselves without drinking water due to a 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (also known as Crude MCHM) spill into the drinking water supply for Kanawha County, WV. The chemical is used to wash coal before shipment. This might be what they mean by CLEAN COAL. Make the coal CLEAN. Unfortunately, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is bad for people when they drink it, so there is pretty much of a big emergency over by Charleston.

It turns out that the coal cleaning chemical causes burning in the throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, respiratory problems and skin blistering. Residents have been advised not to use the water for drinking, cooking or bathing. The “do not use” warning has been extended to WV American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.

The toxic chemical spill originated at a 48,000 gallon storage tank owned by Freedom Industries*, which was unfortunately located a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water Plant on the Elk River, which connects with the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston. The whole capital is pretty well shut down.

The area was immediately declared a federal disaster and the National Guard and various emergency services agencies are working to provide water and other supplies to Charleston area residents. Even the Charleston Marriott had to shut of all water to the rooms, so you know it’s a real emergency.

4-methylcyclohexane methanolFreedom Industries launches massive cleanup effort in the Elk River

Freedom Industries does not know how much of the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol spilled into the river, but they do know the situation is not a health emergency. On Friday afternoon, the WVDEP Division of Air Quality issued a Notice of Violation to Freedom Industries for causing statutory air pollution due to the MCHM release.

Let’s hope and assume that no one is sickened or dies from this most recent incident. Who do we imagine will pay for the mess and at the very least the massive relief efforts and even the inconvenience to citizens? Freedom Industries? Maybe the coal companies will join together and create a fund. Did you like that one?

The only thing we can guarantee is that there will be an INVESTIGATION!

*Almost everything associated with the coal business is really really American: hence Freedom Industries, Patriot Coal, etc etc.

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