CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Environmental Protection said Friday night Freedom Industries failed for a second day in a row to keep stormwater runoff from overflowing a collection trench in Charleston, causing another spill into the Elk River.

“To have this happen twice in two days is outrageous and unacceptable,” said DEP Secretary Randy Huffman in a statement. “Freedom and its environmental consultant should have a system in place to handle heavy rainfall.”

It rained about an inch in 20 minutes late Friday afternoon in Charleston.

“If a better system is not implemented immediately, the DEP will take action to bring in a more responsible contractor to handle it,” Huffman said.

Friday’s discharge from the Freedom site lasted about 50 minutes, according to the agency, and was brought under control by increased pumping.

West Virginia American Water began collecting samples for the second night in a row after learning of the spill. The samples collected Thursday came back at a non-detect levels for the chemical crude MCHM.

The DEP issued two notices of violation to Freedom Friday following the first spill. The company is required to respond by noon Saturday with an outline on how the collection system will be redesigned to prevent future overflows.

The Freedom site is under a cleanup plan after more than 10,000 gallons of MCHM spilled into the Elk River Jan. 9 causing a water emergency for residents in parts of nine West Virginia counties.

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  • Voter

    Why does he even have a job after the original spill? If that would happen on my job, I would have been long gone.

  • BH

    The DEP's "outrage" is disingenuous.

  • Gary Karstens

    Good job DEP! I commend them for this swift action. This company is out of control. We can't get rid of the coal and chemical industry fast enough....YEESH!!!!!

    And this proves we need more government. Less government and this company would walk all over people.

  • Mr.P

    D.E.P. gets paid by big companies to look the other way,until something happens and gets out to public,then they act like they are concerned,what a bunch of jokers and actors the D.E.P.really are.

    • thornton

      Well...that's a rather dumb remark.

      Same old problem....the extremes on each side of any issue either define the issue in the minds of too many or seek to co-opt it.

  • Independent View

    ..."outrageous and unacceptable,” said DEP Secretary Randy Huffman in a statement.
    What is outrageous and unacceptable is DEP's and Mr. Huffman's deflecting of blame and failure to accept responsibility for this fiasco!
    WVAWC and their customers should have the right to sue the DEP for neglecting their duties to protect citizens' health and safety!
    What is SEP on site for if not as mere "Space Occupant?"
    Disgusting display by a state agency and its director!

  • dusty

    Mayor Jones wants to know if there was someone on site with carry permit?

  • The bookman

    I wonder if there is video of Huffman espousing his outrage. Just curious if he was able to achieve a straight face while making the statement. They should also put the memo out that all poker games are to be halted at the first hint of rain. Gee whiz!

    • William Glasser


  • William Glasser

    Any hope that the boys at WVAW have learned when and how to shut the intake gates at the WTP now that the filters have all been changed ?

    A "robust" treatment plant is only as good as its operators.

  • thornton

    Hire that bank robber with the backhoe and dig a better trench.

    Quite honestly, DEP being obviously on-site and in-control shares responsibility for issues such as this.....besides that, calm down, even though I know everyone is watching.

    • William Glasser

      The trench is still evolving, DEP says.

      Be fair. Give it time.

  • Aaron

    Was it not stated that there was an inspector from DEP present at the location daily? Why are they not enforcing the law?

    • DB

      The DEP operates on a "compliance assistance" rather than a "compliance enforcement" platform.

      I know this from my time bringing DEP inspectors on tours of a certain facility. The DEP is a joke.

      • Aaron

        The DEP may very well be a joke but trying to prove that with a story that is half truth, half reality in a magazine from a city that borders a state in which about a third of the land is covered in with "tank farms" isn't the best route to prove it.

        Some of the inaccuracies of the story include the claim that cheap natural gas is reigniting a boom in the chemical industry in the Kanawha Valley aka the Chemical Valley when that is simply not true. The Chemical industry in the valley continues to decline with only Bayer, Dow and a few small producers maintaining a presence with a fraction of the employees of years gone by.

        The author claims the reason so many in WVAW's customer base are there because the coal industry tainted so many wells and again, that simply is not true. If you look at the footprint of those affected by the spill, the only regions with any significant mining history is the declining population’s bases of eastern Kanawha County and Boone County. The majority of WVAM customers located in most of Kanawha County, Putnam County, Lincoln County, and Cabell County live in areas that haven't seen mining in decades, if at all.

        The last inaccuracy I found was the claim that inspectors arrived at the site to find a leak at the base of a "concrete" wall. The containment was constructed with cinder blocks and while the reason for the rupture in the joints of the block is unknown, a 24 inch main water line freezing and then bursting could have easily caused the damage.

        At that point, I got to the reason for the inaccuracies. From the article. "When I finished college, in 1999, I got a job as a photographer at a newspaper in West Virginia, the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram" As I prefer other forms of non-fiction for entertainment, I closed the article.

  • rick

    Did I miss something? Has someone, or some corporate entity, been held responsible ( ie jailed and/or assets seized) since over 300,000 West Virginia's were poisoned?

    DEP is 'Outraged!' LOL

    What amazes me is the utter lack of consequences for the perpetrators of this preventable series of industrial assaults on the people of the Kanahwa Valley.

    In a just society, a society that reflected the interests of its citizens, rather than the agenda of its corporate rulers, the owners would be in jail and their assets would be seized by now.

    • Aaron

      Would all owners of the corporation be jailed in this just world?

    • John

      Rick, you are right on target. Corporations suffer no consequences for their actions, blame everyone else for problems they cause, steal our tax dollars, want more, and then run like cowards from any responsibility when something happens.

      • Aaron

        As Freedom Industries has been forced to file bankruptcy and a multi-million dollar facility that employed dozens of people generating millions in revenues is being dismantled, how is again that there are no consequences?

        Don't misunderstand my question to mean that do not believe some officials should be held responsible for this incident but it seems to me your rant against corporations is a bit generalized.

  • Fred