Justice Department Release

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin today issued the following statement regarding yesterday’s release of a potentially dangerous chemical into the southern West Virginia water supply:

“Yesterday’s release of a potentially dangerous chemical into our water supply has put hundreds of thousands of West Virginians at risk, severely disrupted our region’s economy, and upended people’s daily lives. My office and other federal law enforcement authorities have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the release. We will determine what caused it and take whatever action is appropriate based on the evidence we uncover.”

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  • Dennis

    How long will it be before WVAWC asks for a BIG rate increase to cover the cost of cleanup and the lost revenues from the reduced water consumption.

  • Dale

    Don't forget big bucks for pain and suffering and mega bucks a decade from now because Johnny and Sally are unable to concentrate in school and couldn't learn to read.

  • P b and j

    Everyone relax ........ Booth's going to handle this.

  • Jason412

    The leak can be understood as an accident, something that comes with industry. Not reporting it, then when citizens complain saying it was "non-toxic" hopefully will be considered a criminal act.

    If this turns out not to be an accident, or a result of negligence their should be serious repercussions. With Exxon dealing with felony charges in PA related to them purposely pulling a plug on a fracking waste water tank and releasing 55,000 gallons of fluid into the soil hopefully there will start to be some accountability about what's dumped into the soil and streams, whether it be from Big Coal or Big Gas.

    I'm not an environmentalist at all, and like I said if it was an accident that's understandable, but I still don't understand the lack of reporting/lack of information on the toxicity from Freedom Industries.

    • The bookman

      Wow Jason that is quite a leap. Freedom is a specialty chemical company, not Big Coal. American Water was probably a customer in a twist to the story as they also manufacture and sell water treatment polymers. And the product that leaked into the Elk was a valuable commodity they produce, not a waste by product in their industry. Negligence may have played a role, and I'm sure Mr. Goodwin will eventually shed some light as to the circumstances that led to this discharge, and whether those circumstances are actionable. But to equate this situation to a felonious injection of waste byproduct is a reach by any standard and really only incites more public outrage where there is already plenty given the inconveniences and emergent fear of a contaminated water supply.

      • Jason412

        Bookman, don't get me wrong I didn't mean to imply this was on the level of Exxon intentionally dumping 55,000 gallons of fracking waste water. I also wasn't trying to compare fracking waste water to this 4-methyl stuff.

        Like I said, accidents happen if it was a complete accident such as a pipe blowing or something they definitely should not face criminal charges for that. But the lack of reporting, followed by what reads to me like an outright lie by saying it's non-toxic, I mean those aren't accidents and as such someone should be held accountable.

        I understand the company not wanting to come out saying "the water's poisoned" to the public, but they didn't even report it to the authorities until citizens started calling 911.

        Using the Exxon thing was a bad example, but I had just read that article and was shocked to see someone actually being charges so it was still fresh on my mind.

        The actual discharge was probably an accident, and accidents do happen, and an accident isn't a criminal act. What I'm more concerned with is the fact they were reporting it as non-toxic for 5 or 6 hours after the fact. How does a company not know if a valued commodity is toxic when dumped into the water supply? Now they're "just taking an abundance of caution" Where was that caution from 10am-5pm yesterday?

        Why was WV American Water not immediately notified to shut off their intake valves?

        • The bookman

          When all the dust settles I'd bet the ranch they were alerted about the leak and came as a surprise to them. No information regarding the leak has been made public other than the chemical name. Appears to be a fairly inert product that miners come in contact with frequently. Probably had minimal monitoring on storage and they were unaware of the discharge until the public raised concern over the odor. Negligence most likely, but in the end not criminal. I see a hefty fine and public scorn, as well as Commissioner Carper's usual rants and stage antics. And a new monitoring system!

          • Jason412

            Bookman, after reading the most recent article it sounds pretty criminal.

            A citizen smells it and is worried enough to call the DEP at 8am but no one from Freedom calls it in until 12:05pm? Of all the scenario's I imagined none of them were that bad.

          • Aaron

            Freedom knows this product is stored in an aging tank on the banks of the Elk, 1 mile above the intake for the water supply for the vast majority of the Kanawha Valley. That tank should have had containment capable of holding 125% of the tank storage capacity as is required by law. They didn't and as such, their negligence is unacceptable. People need to be punished.