CHARLESTON,W.Va. — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued an executive order requiring Freedom Industries to remove all remaining materials and dismantle all 17 storage tanks at the company’s Etowah River Terminal on the Elk River in Charleston.

Tomblin’s order came in the wake of a tank leak on the site January 9, 2014. The incident allowed more than 7,000 gallons of Crude MCHM to escape into the Elk River and an unknown quantity of the chemical PPH. The leak, located a mile and a half upstream from West Virginia American Water’s Charleston water treatment facility, contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginia residents in a nine county area.

Tomblin’s order require the remaining materials be transported off site to another storage facility with adequate secondary containment. Furthermore, Freedom is required to install measures to insure secondary containment at the Etowha Terminal prior to removal of any chemicals present.

A lack of adequate secondary control is identified as one of the problems which allowed the original leak.

Once empty, the governor ordered all 17 tanks on the site dismantled along with associated piping and machinery on site.

Tomblin’s order is part of a consent order issued Friday by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and signed by Freedom Industries. Governor Tomblin and Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman began discussions about the elimination of the tank farm January 10th a day after the leak.

The site currently has 17 tanks, three of which contained Crude MCHM. Those three are now empty. The remaining 14 tanks contain Calcium Chloride and Glycerin. The DEP said all of the tanks have an inadequate secondary containment.

Freedom Industries must begin the process by March 15, 2014. The company must also provided the West Virginia DEP with detailed reports of the disposition of all materials removed.The company also must provide the WVDEP with reports detailing the disposition of the materials removed from the tanks.

Tomblin’s order further requires Freedom to adequately demonstrate any delay in the process is beyond their control.

An administration press release detailing the order explain the action does not relieve Freedom of further obligations to comply with all laws governing the removal process.


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  • Larry

    Glad to see jobs will be lost over this, hopefully the water co. goes "belly up" too.

  • wow

    it seems to me that Freedom and the Government is getting rid of evidence that could cost Freedom millions of dollars. Why else would Freedom agree to have this done. Now the next question is who's palm did Freedom grease to get this done. As usual the little man misses his or her chance to get justice. No evidence no law suit.

  • Ron "from Morgantown"

    Gov Tomblin water bill sunk in favor of the Under bill so this is a way for Tomblin to regain control of the events surrounding the chemical spill. Lieutenant Gov Manchin aided in the decision for the executive order .

  • dude

    Well, it looks like pure socialism at work here folks. Since when do politicians take it upon themselves to order private industry to shut down and dismantle their property? West Virginians need to wake up and smell the roses. There needs to be a "changing of the guard" here in West Virginia, as in a totally new set of lawmakers voted into office. This group is just doing Obama's dirty work here in the mountain state. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!

  • Nose of the Camel

    Welp! I just got my nose under the tent and now wait for the rest of my big enormous body to come barging in... I'm sure our usual suspects on here are tickled pink, (actually RED) that we've been able to use this crisis to banish the Constitution of These United State a little more to the out-realms of existence. Thank our heavenly Fathers, Karl Marx, Chairman Mao and Barack Hussein Obama "we never let a crisis go to waste"

  • Ron "from Morgantown"

    On Jan 13 , 2014 Judge James Stucky granted a temporary restraining order ordering Freedom to preserve evidence at the site . According to the order Freedom "must not alter or modify in any manner any structure , tank , or equipment ... -it is appropriate that (Freedom Industries ) be in as close as possible to their condition at the time of the chemical spill ". It seems to me that Tomblins EXECUTIVE ORDER conflicts with the Judges order . I don't think an executive order trumps a RESTRAINING ORDER from a Judge .

    • BH

      I agree. In the interest to be "politically correct" loss of evidence will be destroyed and any investigation would be compromised.

  • blugldmn

    Let's hope they are not south of the Kanawha hayseeds whose wife with his help milked the state for millions breeding greyhounds over the years getting payments no other breeder got.

    The government is every bit as culpable as freedom industries in some regards.

    It's probably cheaper to demo the tanks than repair them but the site has rail access.

    The governor doesn't have this power despite what he or Manchin believe.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Finally the governor is demonstrating some leadership and backbone. My thanks go to Senator Manchin, who suggested this days ago.

    It has finally been established that this governor, when prompted, can lead--though it seems from way, way behind. He still doesn't emit the confidence and assurance that is needed in any state's chief executive, especially in times of crisis and public doubt.

    Let's hope there are better choices during the next gubernatorial election cycle.

    • Shadow

      You don't know how to spell "Communist"! Were you aware that we are a Constitutional Government and the El Supremo just trashed it?

      • Mason County Contrarian

        Sorry, Shadow. It was not my intention to touch a nerve by making my observation. I was just expressing my opinion, which the last time I checked The Constitution, is still permitted in the Republic.

        The Governor has the authority to issue executive orders under the state constitution whenever the situation warrants. It is a power that is seldom used because a situation like this has rarely (and thankfully) presented itself. It is no different than the "declaration of a state of emergency" due to weather-related events or an ordered coalmine safety stand-down by Governor Manchin a few years ago.

        My point and opinion was that he waited what seems an inordinate amount of time to do so.

        Can we graciously agree to disagree without resorting to McCarthy-era labeling and demagoguery?

        If an apology is necessary on my part, consider it given.

        • Shadow

          I may have overstated your position but private property is an important part of our Government and the governor overreached his authority. Your comment was in support of the unilateral decision to destroy private property. What we don't know is what was in the consent order and how that approval from Freedom was gathered. I could understand his authority to cease operations and clear the site of any potential dangers but to destroy what were several functioning tanks is confiscation of private property without compensation which is prevented by the Constitution although we have many instances where the Government has violated that Amendment. As to McCarthy era, i resort to Harry's: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

        • Aaron

          The problem with his leadership Shadow is that in addition to violating a state judges court order, it also violates the due process clause of the Constitution.

          The 5th Amendment states that no person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of the law.

          As such, the governments executive order which you deem long overdue is in conflict with the Constitution and that doesn't even begin to consider the rights of those affected by Freedom's Actions that this order violates.

          Yes, you are permitted to express your opinion although I'm not sure it's a constitutional right in all cases but none the less, you are entitled to it.

          No matter how wrong it may be.

          • Aaron

            What is there about the 5th Amendment to disagree on?

          • Ron "from Morgantown"

            Oh you woke up and now acknowledge Judge Stucky order from Jan 13 , 2014 . A week ago when I informed you of his decision you suggested that my facts were not accurate .

          • Mason County Contrarian

            Respectfully agreeing to disagree would seem to be an unwelcome notion on yet another website.

  • Bruiser

    I am still in shock of "WHY" they did not have inspections, even short handed that many years without a citation of secondary containment should have been issued. That should also be investistigated.

    • Aaron

      While above ground storage tanks were regulated, there was no mandatory inspections required by any government agency as was the case with those involved in a manufacturing environment.

      That certainly did not prevent various agencies from visiting the site if there were problems as seems to be the case from reports that cite the odor at other times.

      I would also think the sale of such an aged facility would require some sort of inspection but apparently that was not the case.

  • Hillbilly Tea

    Tyranny is always the last resort of an inept government. Tomblin has the IQ of a gerbil. Will the DEP flunkies be held accountable for their ineptitude? Didn't think so.

    We get the government we deserve. God help us all.

    • Todd

      Hillbilly, government is never held accountable for anything.

  • ...

    Calcium chloride in the water would be just as bad and ask anyone from nitro what glycerin can make.

  • first time caller

    Are you serious? Blame the government much? How can you defend freedom industries when pregnant charlestonians can't drink their tap water? Please leave our town. You and the water are toxic.

    • Nose of the Camel

      Andrew? Gov. Cummo, is that you?

    • Todd

      First time caller, the government is as much to blame as Freedom Industries. Those tanks have been sitting on the banks of the Elk River for years and have never drawn the attention of the DEP. Present and past administrations have fault in this as well.

      • first time caller

        Don't blame law enforcement for crime.

    • Aaron

      The recommendation for pregnant women to not drink the water is a standard recommendation by the CDC anytime there's a potential risk as a precaution to the fetus. Does that not make sense?

      • ...

        You mean anytime there is a "standard" toxic chemical spill into a community water source?

        • Aaron

          According to the CDC spokesman, anytime there is a question as to what is in a water supply regardless of how it gets there, the standard recommendation is for pregnant women to refrain from ingesting the water. Seems logical to me.

  • Brian

    Now the DEP cites lack of secondary containment. Where were they with inspections and oversight before the spill?

  • Jim N Charleston

    Brilliant move by Freedom Industries. They declare bankruptcy, close up shop, & walk away pretty much scott free after an "order" from the DEP & others in government.

    The Gov & other pols all look real tough to the typical WV voter even though Freedom Industries has donated to their campaigns multiple times.

    Meanwhile the employees at the place get nothing (except 6 months unemployment at at most1/2 pay) and all the lawsuits will only bring benefit to the ambulance chasing lawyers.

    God Bless America
    I'm Jim N Charleston & it's too cold


    If my memory serves me right the tank farm was there before the water company intake. JOBS, the last I heard there are over 55 good paying jobs with benefits. TAXES -where is mayor jones on this
    OTHER TANK FARMS-- are the other tank farms on the river going to have to dismantle their tanks????? I have driven by the other tank farms are their containment systems are totally INADEQUATE also.
    It sounds as if the DEP, DNR, Machin and the governor are trying to cover up the job that they were supposed to be doing!!!
    It appears that this was an ACCIDENT /ACT of GOD, so let's just tear down all the tank farms at the other chemical plants cause cab of the chemical plants in charleston dump more than 10.000 gallons of chemicals in the river each day but citizens aren't informed of that. Ask any boater on the kanawha river what they see and smell . The other plants use the river as their own sewer an people are drinking the chemicals being dumped in the river.

    I say again, tear down all the tank farms , close all the impoundments that hold all the chemicals from coal mines and power plants, put tens of thousands out of work!!!
    Our government leaders are a disgrace, I'm selling my house I just built at a loss just to get away from all this and open my business where I can get paid besides my employees. The only real winners in this is the moving companies.
    By the way, what is the number to Mayflower Movers.
    Goodbye and good luck West Virginia, a place I called home for over sixty years.