WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer chastised an EPA official for referring to the Elk River chemical spill as an accident.
Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Thursday, Mathy Stanislaus, an assistant administrator with the EPA, described the Jan. 9 spill as “the accident at the Freedom Industries facilities in West Virginia.”
Boxer (D-California) quickly challenged the assertion.
“It wasn’t, in my opinion—that leak wasn’t an accident. Would you want to reconsider using that word or would you still think it was an accident,” Boxer said.
Stanislaus tried to backtrack but Boxer continued to press him on the term.
“I don’t see that as an accident. I see it as a failure, as you say, of the equipment to hold the chemical,” stressed Boxer.
“I agree,” said Stanislaus.
“Good,” Boxer replied.
Boxer went on to say it wasn’t as if a truck crashed into the tank at Freedom and caused the leak, but rather the result of a faulty tank. She said the working group formed to devise better preparation and response plans hasn’t accomplished much.
“I’m looking for action here, not a lot of words,” she said. “So far I’ve seen a lot of words.”
The working group was already in place at the time of the Elk River chemical spill, but has become a major rallying point for Boxer, West Virginia U.S. Sen.Joe Manchin and others, in making headway toward protecting the environment.