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DEP finds problems at Freedom’s alternate storage site

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Department of Environmental Protection was expected to issue an order on Thursday morning detailing what officials with Freedom Industries must do at a Nitro storage facility to comply with state regulations.

After about 7,500 gallons of a coal processing chemical, crude MCHM, leaked into the Elk River last week from the Freedom Industries site in Charleston and made it into the water supply for an estimated 300,000 people, the DEP ordered Freedom to transport the rest of the chemical to another site.

(Read Poca Blending inspection report here.)

In response, several tanks worth were trucked to an industrial park in Nitro.

Following a site visit, the DEP cited Freedom Industries on Tuesday for violations in Nitro including failing to have back-up protection for chemical spills, the same failure that allowed the chemical to make it into the Elk River in Charleston on Jan. 9.  The Elk River is the water source for the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant.

On Wednesday, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a separate inspection at the Nitro facility in response to reports of possible problems with chemical storage at the site.

Officials with OSHA had already been looking at the Charleston storage site for Freedom Industries.

A week after the leak, an estimated 40,000 West Virginia homes and businesses still had not been cleared to resume regular tap water usage.  Parts of several counties were remained under a do-not-use water order from West Virginia American Water Company on Wednesday night.

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