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.”


California Senator Barbara Boxer said Thursday the Jan. 9 Freedom Industries spill was no accident.

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.

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  • Brian

    The accident is also known as a loophole in the law. The loophole in the law is a glaring failure of nothing more than the legislature that allowed it to stay there.

  • wvrocks

    For crying out loud. Boxer is being critical of the EPA. This is the same EPA that gets lambasted daily on these comment pages, yet suddenly people are blasting Boxer and in a way, sympathetic to the EPA.
    If the tire on your car is bald with belts showing an finally goes flat, is this an accident?? No it's faulty equipment, plain and simple. Freedom was responsible for their faulty equipment. It was not an accident!

  • Hillbilly

    Boxer is a left wing liberal democratic Loon . She is the one that said , don't manufacture anymore hi-capacity clips and when they shoot up all of the bullets from them there won't be anymore hi-cap. clips . Don't pay any attention to her , she is an idiot !!


    Wow what a bunch of dumb people some of you idiots are.

  • David Kennedy

    Why is Barbara Boxer interested in West Virginia?
    Let me give you a hint.
    What if if the EPA sold California one of our 6 fresh water rivers and our federal government built a multi-pipe pipeline though Las Vegas to get that water to California?
    Sound Crazy? Hardly...the technology is here for the project..
    We have the water and it's being wasted...and huge oil pipelines exist all over the world...Alaska, Ukraine, Turkey...
    West Virginia sits on its greatest wealth...water!

  • Todd

    Boxer couldn't find West Virginia on a map.

  • Charleston Cheese

    did you simpletons even read the article or is your reading comprehension just pathetic? she said having sub-standard is not an accident, it's disregard for the community. If having a leak due to substandard storage tanks was an "accident" then it was an accident that was just waiting to happen. Just because she is from a place that seems foreign to you sheltered people doesn't mean she can't know she's talking about. Jeez, she is looking out for us which no one can say about Capito, Tomblin or the WVDEP.

    • Shadow

      I am always suspicious of folks that make a conclusion before the analysis is done. I have yet to read an analysis of this tank failure, does anyone have a reference to one?

  • TLC

    Boxer is a rude bully. She is also dumb to say it wasn't an accident. Of course it was. Does she think this was on purpose? Bankrupting the company was their plan? Nut.

    • Shadow

      Give Boxer a break, if you were an accident, you should know one.

  • BAC

    So Boxer thinks Freedom did it on purpose so their company could be destroyed and their leadership prosecuted? She is a chronic idiot, indicative of how stupid California voters have become to elect the likes of her.

  • Ut Oh

    Speaking of all words and no action Barbara Boxer and the 49 other Senators and all the House of Reps. The talk but nothing good ever comes from it. Hell why didn't she just write her own report without the testamony, sounds like she has already concluded all the facts in her own mind...

  • Smitty

    Boxer really has me ticked off with her bullying tactics.
    I believe this was an accident. Why would Freedom "purposely" leak chemical into the river? I heard that the plants in Institute were having problems with busted pipes because of the weather at the same time.
    I will certainly agree that authorities should have been notified sooner and water consumption stopped right away.

  • tom

    So the haters see this as showboating and not someone concerned with clean water for America? Amazing that people can see a speck of sawdust in anothers eye but not a plank in their own.

    • Aaron

      Is someone who finds Boxer less than sincere a 'hater?'

      If so, I guess I'm a hater.

      • tom

        Kepp voting for Capito and Joe and we will have more of the same.

        • Aaron

          Tell me how either could have prevent any of what occurred.

          • Aaron


            How could the tank leaking have been prevented?

            Mind you, I'm not referring to the containment wall as I know how that could been prevented. My question is specifically addressed to the tank leak.

            What say you?

          • The bookman


            Accidents aren't preventable. But regulations aren't intended to prevent accidents. They are intended to mitigate the impact in the event they occur. In industry, accidents happen, and that is why these steps are taken in advance to minimize the impact to the environment.

            It is premature to definitively characterize this contamination as an accident or negligence or gross misconduct. So it is a semantic debate until we have all the evidence. So that really leaves us with Senator Boxer capitalizing on a sound byte opportunity and not really anything of substance any further. She has always conducted herself in that manner, and no one should be surprised by it. In fairness to her, however, many in DC on both sides of the aisle engage in such misbehavior. I don't like it when she does it, or Issa does it, or anyone else who lays in wait for that gotcha moment to grab the headlines. They're not tough guys, as much as they are the party's attack dogs. In the end those tactics get us nowhere, except farther apart.

            I yield back the balance of my time!

          • tom

            Accidents are not preventable, this disaster could have been prevented if our elected officials weren't as concerned about their business interests and were more concerned with it's citizens and clean drinking water. I believe most all elected officials showboat when they can but in this particular case I believe the statement of fact was that this could have been prevented and shows a correct statement on Boxers behalf.

          • The bookman


            This is WV. Of course I've voted for candidates from both parties. I would agree that Capito, and to a lesser degree, Manchin have been ineffective in Congress with no real legislation to hang their hat on. But why all the love for Rahall. His exclusion from your obvious disdain for lackluster performance is a little surprising. He has been there for nearly 4 decades. What say you, sir?

          • Aaron

            I'm a former Democrat turned Independent who voted for Ronald Reagan, both Bush's as well as Clinton and Obama before voting for Romney. In the WV governors race, I've voted for Jay, Caperton, Underwood, Wise, Manchin and Bill Maloney twice. As far as diversity in candidates go, I doubt you have anything on me.

            And I can't help but note that other than making anecdotal comments, you've yet to add anything of substance to the conversation. I don't want to say you are a partisan hack but to be honest, I don't see any evidence that would suggest otherwise.

            Do you have anything besides asinine comments or are you going to continue to spew tripe?

          • tom

            Caito's father was jailed for his crooked politics, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Capito and Joe must go, neither are capable regardless of party affiliation. I have voted for canidates from both parties, have you? I doubt it! Things are much better run in the 49th economy of the US vs the 7th largest economy of the world?Crawl back under your rock.

          • Aaron

            Without something more specific Tom and your unequivocal support for someone like Barbara Boxer, I'm not sure I can conclude anything other than your feelings are based on partisan politics.

            Your comment regarding California, as Bookman pointed out their massive failures (see Jefferson 51st state and California to split into 6 states) do nothing but add credence to that line of thinking.

            Focus man and think hard. What specifically could Capito, Manchin or any other politician have done to prevent the occurrence at Freedom Industries on January 9th?

          • The bookman


            You mean run the 7th largest economy into the ground! It is so sideways in California that there is a popular move afoot in that state to break it up into pieces as the populace sees their government as unable to manage the operations of the economy. So maybe you've given Boxer et al a bit much credit.

          • tom

            By not being in bed with the coal and chemical companies. Both would be in over their heads trying to help run the 7th largest economy in the world.

    • Beekeeper

      Not really. You will know a tree by it's fruit, and she's produced plenty of rotten fruit over the years.

  • ViennaGuy

    I doubt that Barbara Boxer has ever been to West Virginia, outside of possibly some sort of political pow-wow at the Greenbrier. She knows nothing about this state or its people.

    Memo to Barbara Boxer(and all California politicians): MYOB, we'll take care of ourselves.

    • reality check

      yeah, because we did such a good job with our water supply/Freedom Industries.

      • ViennaGuy

        I have not, and am not, dismissing the failures on the parts of Freedom Industries and the state; there is blame to be laid at the feet of both, and that blame has been discussed here and in other forums.

        However, Barbara Boxer has a history of being a bully and a blowhard when she thinks she can benefit politically from such behavior(or when she thinks her feathers have been ruffled). All that behavior does is make her look small-minded and petulant. She needs to grow up. Being a holier-than-thou bully isn't necessary and doesn't cut it.

      • reality check

        ...and i despise her - but still think your comment is absurd.

  • wv4evah

    An article obviously written to throw red meat to Boxer haters on this site. To focus on one trivial exchange..and not on the hearing overall, and comments made by other participants..without context..is irresponsible.

    • Aaron

      Here's all you need to know about Barbara Boxer


      On a side note when I was in the military, officers we had no respect for, we called by their rank instead of Sir or ma'am. I'm not surprised she doesn't know that.

      On that note, I really liked this one.


  • thornton

    I would say she is correct...it was more a failure than an accident. But, "failure" as she obviously intends the word, applies to the owners alone.....there was also a failure in inspection procedures, regulation, commonsense and on and on. ....from the leak onward.

    Still, Queen Boxer is using the incident in the manner of every politico....selfishly. A big improvement is if any opportunity on the political stump was audio and not video. Cameras are a bad deal re politicos.