Company in West Virginia spill failed to disclose second chemical
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[January 23, 2014] By
The company, Freedom Industries, had
previously said that only one chemical, crude MCHM, had spilled from
one of its storage tanks into the Elk River at Charleston on January
Freedom Industries told the state Department of
Environmental Protection on Tuesday that a second chemical, PPH, was
in the above-ground tank despite an order immediately after the
spill to disclose what was in it, the department said in a
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he was "very disappointed" that it
took Freedom Industries, a maker of specialty chemicals, 12 days to
disclose the presence of PPH.
"You know, once again it's another one of those chemicals that very
few people knew anything about," he told a news conference.
"When I first heard about it yesterday the first thing we tried to
do with my internal team is find out, what is PPH? And then why it
was not revealed."
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a
statement that the low levels of PPH, or polyglycol ethers, and a
review of information about it showed there were no new health
About 300,000 people around Charleston, the state capital, were
banned from using tap water for anything but flushing toilets
following the spill. The ban was lifted fully on Saturday.
The leak from a Freedom Industries tank was about a mile upriver
from West Virginia American Water, the area's main water plant and a
unit of American Water Works Company Inc.
Ordered by the state Department of Environmental Protection to
report the contents of the tank by Wednesday afternoon, Freedom
Industries said it had held only crude MCHM, or 4-methylcyclohexane
methanol, and PPH.
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Freedom Industries President Gary Southern wrote in a letter that
the mix in the tank was about 88.5 percent crude MCHM and 7.3
percent PPH, with the rest water. A copy was on the Department of
Environmental Protection website.
Failure to report accurately the type of materials and the
quantities is a violation of state code, the department said. PPH is
a thinner for MCHM, which is used in processing coal.
American Water said in a statement that company and state officials
were determining how to retest samples for PPH. Samples showed that
crude MCHM is at extremely low levels or cannot be found, it said.
Tomblin on Monday proposed legislation to regulate above-ground
storage tanks. Freedom Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection on Friday.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by
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