CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The nine-county water emergency dominated discussion at the state capitol and in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Tuesday.
A hearing was held on the filing by Freedom Industries of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Freedom owns the chemical tank that leaked 7,500 gallons of MCHM into the Elk River beginning Jan. 9. The leak contaminated the water supply used by West Virginia American Water for some 300,000 state residents.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson ruled Freedom could secure a $4 million loan with several provisions. Testimony from company officials said several hundred thousand dollars had already been spent by Freedom to clean up the site.
The remediation work was also a topic of discussion before members of the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the water emergency held in the House Chamber.
State DEP Emergency Response Chief Mike Dorsey told lawmakers work is focused on keeping the riverbank below the fill site from falling into the Elk River. Dorsey described a guzzler machine that is sucking out a trench dug at the bottom of the main slope.
“They’ve been sucking soil and liquids out of the riverbank and back up to the top of the slope,” Dorsey said. “We’ve intercepted things we’ve been seeing coming down there and we’ve also been sucking material off of the bank.”
Kanawha County Delegate Meesha Poore asked why there wasn’t an emergency alarm sounded when the leak was detected. Dorsey said those are mainly used for air quality issues but it’s a possibility worth exploring.
The leadership of the House Judiciary Committee promised more hearings on the water emergency.