Freedom Industries President Gary Southern told the state Tuesday there was another chemical in the tank that was discovered leaking Jan. 9.
File photo
Freedom Industries President Gary Southern told the state Tuesday there was another chemical in the tank that was discovered leaking Jan. 9.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Freedom Industries told the state Tuesday there was a second chemical in the tank that leaked 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM into the Elk River earlier this month touching off the contamination of the water supply for 300,000 residents served by West Virginia American Water in a nine-county region.

Freedom president Gary Southern told the state he didn’t know the chemical PPH was still being mixed with MCHM.

A mixture of polyglycol ethers, PPH was approximately 5 percent of the tank’s total volume and possesses a toxicity lower than MCHM, according to Material Safety Data Sheets. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control told the state Bureau of Public Health Tuesday night that given the small percentage and the similar water solubility, “it is likely that any amount of PPH currently in the water system would be extremely low. However, the water system has not been tested for this material.”

The CDC reported that current information on the toxicologic impact of PPH “does not suggest any new health concerns.”

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin criticized Freedom Industries Tuesday night for not telling the state sooner.

“This is totally unacceptable and Freedom should be held accountable for their actions,” the governor said.

The full statement from the CDC to the state Bureau of Public Health:

The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health received the following statement in an email from the CDC tonight.  Testing is ongoing and State officials are continuing to work with CDC and other experts to ensure the safety of the water for our citizens.

Earlier today, the manufacturer reported that another material was part of the chemical release that occurred on January 9, 2014. This material has been identified as a proprietary mixture of polyglycol ethers (PPH). It was in the same tank and entered the water system at the same time as the MCHM.  PPH represented a relatively small percentage (approximately 5%) of the total volume in the tank.

Toxicologic information on PPH is limited.  Based on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturer, the reported toxicity of this material appears to be lower than the toxicity of MCHM  (LD50 > 2000 mg/kg for the primary component of PPH vs. 825 mg/kg for MCHM).  Given the small percentage of PPH in the tank and information suggesting similar water solubility as MCHM, it is likely that any amount of PPH currently in the water system would be extremely low. However, the water system has not been tested for this material.

An initial review of the currently available toxicologic information does not suggest any new health concerns associated with the release of PPH. At this point, toxicologic information about PPH is limited; however, CDC/ATSDR will continue to work closely with the State of West Virginia and its Federal partner agencies to search for additional relevant information.

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  • scott

    Section 7 stipulates that the company inspect periodically the structures and leak containment and maintenance of records.

    The Tank and leak containment BOTH failed....any questions?

  • This is bull everyone should be compensated

    Everyone should be compensated for this meaning money damages everyone suffered because of this

  • Tim from SA

    Just happened upon this article, I was seaching for the LD50 for MCHM to compare with other common chemicals. For example the LD50 for CHCM (825 mg/kg) is 4 times LESS toxic than aspirin (200mg/kg) and caffiene (192). And 16 times less toxic than sodium flouride, which the World Health Organization recommends at 0.5 to 1ppm in public water.

  • Zack

    PPh, if it is similar to the DOW product DOWANOL PPh, is bodegradeable, and mixes with water slightly better than MCHM. There was also far less of this solvent released than MCHM. As the CDC put it, this new data "does not suggest any new health concerns". PPh is chemically similar to the key solvent in glass cleaner, 2-butoxy-ethanol, which is known to be only slightly toxic.

    Personally, I wouldn't drink the water until MCHM is found at less than 1 ppb (0.001 ppm), and by that time PPh levels will be nearly undetectable. Mind you all, many "bad chemicals" are put in your water by nature, and we can handle low levels all the time.

    Long term effects are the big question. Are either of these compounds endocrine disruptors? This is the class of toxic chemicals that includes phthalate plasticizers and bisphenol-A (BPA), and is the class of chemicals referenced when "long term effects" of synthetic chemicals are discussed. This is what the CDC will focus on. There is an EPA initiative that screens consumer additives to be sure any endocrine disruptive effect is very minimal.

  • jason thomas

    If the government doesnt step up to the plate thell be very foolish

  • jason thomas

    I will make this statement i have two little girls and if the government doesnt step up to the plate i will find away to legally take every penny i can for my kids im already pursueing legal advice on how to proceed

  • DaiAtlas

    Please remember this the next time an elected official running for office says something that is perceived to be negative about the coal industry. (Cause this is really the coal industry issue. The politicians are trying to get coal out of it, but Freedom Industries is a part of the coal industry.) In a year or two a few WV politicians are going say something negative about the coal industry - maybe about more regulation or a larger tax/fee for spills and/or clean-up - at which point the industry will fund that politicians opposition. (They will go after that poor soul.) Please see through that. No one in their right mind wants the coal industry to die, American needs it. Everyone needs heat! However, anyone in their right mind wants the industry to be responsible.

    By the way, if that chemical is what they wash coal with, what is happening to all the stuff that flows into the ground from the washing process?

    • Aaron

      I'm curious, do you think the co-industry is responsible for the recordable injury right at Walker?

  • wvrefugee

    So, now we are allowing the waste water from fracking to be pumped back into injection wells now???? How stupid are we in WV?????

    • thornton

      Find a mirror and use it for an answer to your question.

      Nice stab at usurping one incident for the agenda-driven interest of pimping another.

  • Pat Fot

    CRIMINAL! Why does he think we should believe him that nothing else was released? This is not over and we are demanding answers. We want the investigation results published.

  • Say What?

    Why is it that Gov. Tomblin smells of the preverbial big business/politician corruption?

  • Josh Riffle

    Thanks Joe, Earl Ray, Shelly, etc. for waiting for a disaster before actually considering legislation to protect our water supply. Also, thanks for trying to find a way around legislation that protects the air. See what you can do about any pesky protection out there for our food supply too. Money is all that matters folks! Get on board with Joe and the gang. They'll show you how it's done. Ask Erin Keener.