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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Comments

  • 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.

  • Blanton

    The Governor's bill needs to include a criminal
    penalty for polluting a water system either directly or indirectly.

    • Aaron

      Would that include runoff from one's home?

      • Zack

        Valid question. Writing a just and fair law would require discerning between different kinds of runoff (organophosphate pesticides are MUCH more toxic than, say, motor oil), the scale of the spill, whether it can be confirmed to be negligent or deliberate, and so on. Not a simple situation.

        • Philip Andolina

          Zack

          I am no lawmaker but it seems to me that your shades of grey argument could be used to over-complicate the consideration of any needed legislation. This is not a back-yard incident. How much of what you describe is reserved for the courts?

          As to Blanton's original comment - if corporations are people with rights then it should follow that they are people who can and should be held accountable, not free from criminal prosecution hiding behind bankruptcy law.

          • Aaron

            Bankruptcy laws do not shield individuals from criminal charges.

  • Deborah Corlis

    I want the governor to grow some gonads along with a social conscience and say that Freedom Industries (and all others responsible) WILL be held accountable instead of a fluffy "should be held accountable". Take them to task Governor! Quit being so wishy washy and afraid of the corporate rule and DO something like close legal loopholes and make policy changes in order to benefit the safety, health and well-being of your constituents. YOU are allegedly running this state...now DO something to see that the responsible entities are the ones that actually pay for and rectify this chemical spill disaster ,and that the same will hold true for any other subsequent environmental assaults.

    • Big Hooptie

      Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" Neither you or I have all the facts. We only have what the media reports.

      • Harpers Ferry

        If a child gets into poisonous material in a home more than once, that's called negligence.

        • Big Hooptie

          You still have to get the facts.

          Negligence is a charge. To prove the charge you must present fact.

          In this situation we just have to rely on fact and not TV or the internet before we pass judgement.

          • Philip Andolina

            None of us here represent a court of law but we all represent the will of a nation professing to be a democracy that is allowed to use the media as a bullhorn aimed at our lawmakers and enforcement agencies.

            How can one have any day in court without the will to first prosecute?

        • Aaron

          What if a neighbor places the poisonous material in your backyard in a location unbeknownst to you?

    • melvin

      The governor and his DEP should be held as accountable as any other entity responsible for this crisis. They have a duty to protect the public. Where was the oversight that our tax dollars spend on environmental protection??

  • Larry

    If I were a devious, underhanded, evil person, trying to slowly poision someone with anti-freeze laced sweet tea, I would not use this water to make the tea with.

  • Additonally

    Gary Southern looks like Baghdad Bob.

    "There is no truth to the rumor that the water is bad. That lie is being spread by the infidels who will die at the gates of hell."

  • Donna & John McPhail

    It was so stupid that the WV water company would allow this to put above our water supply. They I guess thought we were these stupid hillbillies and "What the Heck, Who Cares"!!! Well, quess what? WE CARE, IT IS OUR lIVES, YOU ARE MESSING WITH!!!! I think this man, that kept this a secret should be threw under the jail, not just put in it. He knew this other chemical was in there and said nothing! Its is a scary situation what is going to come of us that used this water, before and even after this happened to our water supply. (Or rather before the public was notified of this situatin)! It was probably going on even a lot longer that we even know!!!! All I can say is shame on all of you that lets this happen to us! If someone would come into my house and I would be something in their drink that made them sick, or give them CANCER, i am sure I would be arrested, so I think the same thing shoułd happen here, we were giving poison, so arrest these people that were responsible for this, NOW!!!!!

    • Aaron

      How did WV American Water allow the tank farm be placed above their water supply when it predated WV American Water?

      • Ron "from Morgantown"

        American Water didn't own the plant when it was originally built .

        • Ron "from Morgantown"

          Your question will be the key point as lawyers attempt to make American culpable for the spill. Freedom may be judgment proof so lawyers will attempt to tag American as being liable for the spill because it didn't use due diligence as it relates to what was a mile upstream . Also lawyers will wonder why American didn't close the intake valve like other downstream cities did ,like Cincinnati .

          • Aaron

            Lawyers can asked why the intake valve wasn't closed but the president of West Virginia American water did a pretty good job of explain that one.

            Even if West Virginia American water is found culpable the people paying the bills will be the ones who were affected by the spiel, the customers as find, penalties and judgments will be passed on to the consumer through rate increases.

        • Aaron

          The tank farms are there before the water plant was built. The question then becomes Did West Virginia American water have responsibility to move the intake valve above those particular tanks after they purchase a facility?

          Given that there was no history of leaks in the elk, thats tough question to answer. If you say yes then the next question is what's above the tanks that could potentially got into the intake valve?


          So then you have to ask how far up should they have moved the intake valve?

          Sutton Lake?

  • Conservative Realist

    Freedom would have had to know what was in its tanks - it either mixes the MCHM with the PPH or buys it that way from a supplier. This revelation begs the question as to why Freedom's staff were deliberately deceptive in their disclosures to the DEP and others. The tanks were labeled (Using NFPA 704 system) for just MCHM - not the "Crude" MCHM/PPH mix. The CDC came up with its "guess" as to safe threshholds based on just the MCHM. I would bet that the Tier II forms that have been being submitted for the site don't reference the PPH mixture.

    I sincerely hope that the U. S. Attorney's Office finds someone criminally negligent after all of the dust settles.

  • Frank / Moundsville

    Looks like it will take a very long time before WV American Water customers trust the safety of their water supply, IF EVER!

  • John of Wayne

    This is becoming more a crime scene than an accident. It should be secured as such to provide forensic investigators the opportunities to find out once and for all what went on there.

    • Ron "from Morgantown"

      Thanks to lawyers that's exactly what has happened .Lawyers went to court and asked a judge for an emergency restraining order so that the Freedom site can be thoroughly inspected by all interested parties including all agencies of federal and state government . Freedom wanted to raze the tanks in an effort to destroy evidence . Now that can't happen .

      • Aaron

        If you have evidence Ron that Freedom wanted to raze the site, perhaps you should take it to either the US Attorney for the Southern District or the AG's office.

        • Ron "from Morgantown"

          The AG office in WV doesn't have prosecuting powers as it relates to criminal activity ( the current AG needs to be reminded of this daily ) . Our AG has limited powers and is more of a consumer protection office than an office dedicate to criminal prosecution . To directly answer you question , a Judge granted a restraining order to protect all the evidence at Freedoms site. So compelling testimony must have been presented to get that restraining order .

  • Frank / Moundsville

    Why do these clowns never give the full story right up front and keep everyone safe?

  • blugldmn

    80 years of good ole boy democratic control and this is the result!

    • Jim

      Couldn't agree more.

    • scott

      It was Freedoms Tank...it leaked....guess who gets the blame. Guess who should be held accountable.

      If it didnt stink so bad The Honorable Mr Southern you take up for so vehemently would never of told anybody about it.

      If this was some stupid teenager that stole a purse and got shot you would applaud his swift execution...but this corporation deserves every benefit of the doubt huh?

      Just a hunch but i would imagine that the water company probably would of turned off intakes had they...or the company that owned the chemical and the tank...known about the leak.!!!!!!

      Cincinnatti had about 5 days warning...thats why they shut their valves...

      sheesh

      and yeah...this is obviously the fault of a democrat....and you two are not serious people, judging by your assanine post.

      answer me this bluggmn and Jim...you think your great republicans would even have an organization or gov entity to protect us from this crap?

  • Ron "from Morgantown"

    Totally indefensible . This is why we can't trust any industry to police itself . Do you realize in Tomblins bill to protect drinking water the inspections of above ground storage tanks will be performed by employees working for the company that owns the storage tanks ? Talk about a conflict of interest .

    • Aaron

      You're being a bit deceptive there Ron. The regulation calls for, under Section 22-30-6, promulgation of rules and and standards by the secretary, subsection 4, the periodic inspection of leak detection systems, the structural integrity of industrial above ground storage tanks and associated equipment and release prevention measures.

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

      All of that is standard regardless of the inspecting agency and what is being inspected. The company has to conduct annual inspections, maintenance and keep a copy of those records.

      In addition to that standard company inspection, Section 22-30-10 requires each above ground storage tank be inspected and certified annually by a registered professional engineer. This inspection must be conducted every year and submitted to the state by the first day of each new year at the companies expense.

      Regardless of what you think, I doubt you'll find many engineers accepted by the state willing to fudge these inspections.

      I hope that clarifies your misunderstanding of the regulations. If you would like to read more, you can do so here...

      http://www.charlestondailymail.com/mediafiles/document/2014/01/20/20140120172923384_I140120214344.pdf

      • Zack

        Aaron, as a scientist I dearly appreciate your rigor and devil's advocacy. Your note on how the water supply company built its facilities after Freedom did is intriguing.

        What do regulations say regarding the proximity of above-ground chemical storage to bodies of water used to provide drinking water to citizens?

        • Aaron

          I cannot say for sure as I'm not in that industry. I do know that regulations existed as cursory search turned up EPA guidelines from 2001.

      • Ron "from Morgantown"

        The issue is simple , why not authorize the DEP to conduct the inspections (even if they have to hire the engineers) rather than allow those with a vested interested to do the inspections . Companies who hire outside engineers still pay the engineers and as such become de facto employees .

        • Aaron

          There's nearly 800 employees at the DEP right now. This cannot be a severe problem as this leak is the first one that we've been made aware of publicly. What is the DEP need to hire new engineers to conduct inspections as a result of one incident. Why can the current workforce not cover the workload if independent engineers aren't acceptable? Why do new state employees have to be hired at a time when the state is struggling with revenue?

  • Dave Rice

    This is just another reason why there should be a federal investigation in this matter. If this new chemical, PPH is now in the water it just makes you wonder what else is in there too.
    If they could not be completely honest at first, why should we believe them now. It may turn out that there are or were also other chemicals in there too. "Heads must roll" !!!!

  • leroy j gibbs

    Sounds criminal to me

  • 19WVU76

    All I can say is............UNBELIEVABLE! What a bunch of idiot's.