Monday, January 13, 2014

Local Reporter Puts Smug Freedom Industries President In His Place/Updates on West Virginia Chemical Spill

Elk River

UPDATE 1-28-14:

Freedom Industries Ordered To Tear Down Aging Tanks

So they remove the tanks after they have poisoned a river and the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people and escape culpability for the crime? I am still following news about this and will add news as I find it when I can. This is not to be forgotten but I fear it will be. It is already out of the news and not mentioned by the Obama administration at all as people still struggle to have water here. After all, the Super Bowl is much more important...

'I'm not a scientist': W. Virginia governor addresses water safety after chemical spill

Freedom Industries: More like 10K gallons of chemicals leaked into Elk River

10 THOUSAND gallons... but go ahead drink the water. It's safe. This is so despicable. Frightening to think of how many more tanks rusted, old, leaking-unregulated or inspected sit next to river banks in this country!

UPDATE 1-20-14:

Chemical-Related Hospital Admissions In West Virginia Have Doubled Since Water Deemed Safe

Chemical levels in the water must be below 1 ppm for human ingestion. But health experts have questioned that logic. Specifically, some are saying that the study being widely used to determine whether the water is safe does not include several chemical components that leached into the water.

“A key corporate study used by federal health officials to set a screening level for ‘crude MCHM’ in the West Virginia American Water system actually tested a pure form of the material’s main ingredient and might not account for potential toxicity of other components,” the Charleston Gazette reported on Friday.


“As far as the data and recommendations we have from West Virginia American Water, the water is safe to use,” Rahul Gupta, health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said. “We’re not saying it’s safe. West Virginia American Water is saying it’s safe. We are taking their word for it.”

End of excerpt

So the Health Department is "taking the word" of a private company in business to make profit that the water going through the taps of the citizens they are sworn to protect is safe? Fire them all.

UPDATE 1-18-14:

Freedom Industries Files Bankruptcy After Elk River Spill

Freedom Industries Inc., the chemical maker whose leaky storage tank polluted the Elk River last week and shut down water service in West Virginia’s biggest city, filed for bankruptcy to cope with the subsequent lawsuits.

Freedom Industries listed assets and debt of $1 million to $10 million each in a Chapter 11 petition filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston, West Virginia. The company said the lawsuits and more stringent payment demands from vendors since the incident compelled it to seek court protection.

“They are woefully underestimating their liabilities,” said Aaron Harrah, a lawyer representing the owner of a Charleston bar and restaurant in a lawsuit against Freedom. Harrah said in a phone interview that he’s hopeful his client will still get a payout from Freedom Industries.

A bankruptcy filing halts most litigation, forcing plaintiffs to vie with other creditors for a share of a company’s assets.


Freedom Industries and Eastman, the maker of the chemical that fouled the river, were sued Jan. 13 by local businesses and residents for creating a nuisance and concealing cancer-causing compounds, among other allegations.

Another case names the West Virginia-American Water Co. alongside Freedom Industries. The utility failed to deal promptly with the emergency and had no procedures in place to prevent chemicals from getting into the water system, according to a complaint filed Jan. 10 in Kanawha County Circuit Court in Charleston.

Harrah said he and his colleagues are still investigating Freedom and other companies that may have contributed to the spill.

“The meter continues to run,” he said. “Even though there are businesses with their water back, there are other businesses serving bottled water, trucking in ice. You can imagine people are pretty skittish about drinking this water.”

End of excerpt

Who couldn't have predicted this soulless move in order to skip accountability and leave the taxpayers to foot the bill? UNCONSCIENABLE that they could get away with this obvious tactic to skirt responsibilty. However, that is how it is in the US where corporations are king and citizens are serfs. These people shouldn't be getting money to get them through bankruptcy... they should be doing prison time for poisoning the water supply of 300,000 people! They seek court protection? Where is the peoples' protection? Where is the water's protection?


UPDATE 1-17-14:

Dangers of Water Privatization Emerge In the Wake of West Virginia’s Chemical Spill

"The West Virginia chemical spill is a cautionary tale for communities all over the country where multinational companies are coming in and buying up municipal water utilities to manage people’s drinking water supply for profit. And factors beyond groundwater pollution by the coal industry are driving those trends, such as systemic under-investment in public water systems by federal, state and local governments and the rapaciousness with which private companies, aided by political favoritism and lobbying, are pursuing expansion of their influence, customer base and profit margins. There is much more that can be said about the risks and drivers of water privatization, and people should read the many excellent reports published by Food and Water Watch on the subject. But there are also immediate things people can do to help West Virginians and people across Appalachia reduce the risk of this type of accident from happening again. There is currently an effort afoot by West Virginians to protect their homes and water supply by taking away the authority of the corrupt and ineffective West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to oversee coal mine permitting in the state and instead turning the program over to federal authorities. You can support that effort here. There is also a coalition of groups across Appalachia working to ensure the Obama Administration fulfills its much-delayed promise to replace a Bush-era rule that weakened regulations on mining near streams. You can support this and other efforts by Appalachian groups to end mountaintop removal by"

End of excerpt

Is your water owned by a private company? If this can happen in West Virginia it can and probably has happened elsewhere.

Stand Up To Protect Your Public Water System


UPDATE 1-16-14:

Love in a Time of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol

Beautifully written truthful piece about the tie that binds us all together at times of crisis.

Pregnant Women Warned Not To Drink Water 48 Hours After West Virginia Told Residents It Was Safe

"More than two days after West Virginia American Water began lifting the ban on water use that had impacted 300,000 West Virginians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally broke its silence and advised pregnant women not to drink the water. Late Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources issued a one-page advisory for pregnant women, based on guidance from the CDC, recommending “out of an abundance of caution” that “pregnant women drink bottled water until there are no longer detectable levels of MCHM in the water distribution system.” Previously, officials had maintained that levels of the chemical, crude MCHM, below 1 part per million were considered safe. As of Thursday, officials had cleared the water for more than 200,000 West Virginians based on the 1 part per million threshold set by the CDC. As David Gutman and Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette reported, the latest warning to pregnant women comes after the CDC repeatedly refused the paper’s requests for information regarding how the 1 part per million figure was derived."

End of excerpt

So once again we see corporate profit overruling the health and safety of our citizens. My advice, NO ONE should be drinking the water yet. "Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette reported, the latest warning to pregnant women comes after the CDC repeatedly refused the paper’s requests for information regarding how the 1 part per million figure was derived."

Trust it's at their safe level? How is a toxic chemical "safe" at any level if it is being used on a daily basis allowing it to accumulate in your system?! How would they know with such a lack of scientific data on this chemical to begin with?

The Big Impact Of A Little-Known Chemical In W.Va. Spill

Methylcyclohexanol:Toxicology Data Network

Only non human studies on this chemical have been done showing decrease in fertility in rats (hence I suppose this warning to pregnant women after the fact.) Since it is unclear how much was really spilled and the time frame regarding when it began I would definitely read up on what I could find about this chemical and take precautions. Workers who cleaned this up are also at risk.

Hundreds of chemicals are used in this country on a daily basis without knowing the true cumulative effects on human health and environment because corporations and corrupt politicians run this process!


UPDATE 1-15-14:

Surviving the West Virginia Water Crisis

Per @cgoodwoman on Twitter:

"I live in Charleston, WV. We have been w/out WATER for 6 days. The ban has lifted -- but would YOU drink this?"


UPDATE 1-14-14:

Cincinnati To Stop Using Water From Ohio River As Chemicals From West Virginia Move Downstream

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati plans to shut down intake valves along the Ohio River to protect the city's drinking water from a chemical spill in West Virginia. Mayor John Cranley announced Monday that the valves will be shut down for at least 20 hours beginning Tuesday night. Cranley says that will allow the water to pass the city without any chemicals entering the drinking supply. The city plans to use a reserve of 60 hours of treated water, built up specially following the West Virginia spill.

End of excerpt


West Virginia Chemical Spill Poses Unknown Threat to the Environment

Spill's Ecological Effects?

Lunder added that there are unanswered questions about the spill's possible ecological impacts, from a chemical that "most people had never heard of."

Lunder said she reviewed the official material safety data sheets for MCMH. "They say things like the chemical could be irritating to skin and eyes and that you should try to keep it from getting into waterways, but these are typical emergency measures and they're not always based on data," she said.

Lunder also reviewed the scientific literature, and she said that there doesn't seem to be any publicly available studies on what the impacts of the chemical would be to either human beings or wildlife, or how long the chemical will persist in the environment. "There's little data with which to draw any conclusions on what effects might be," she said.

Brian Lutz, a biogeochemist who studies the environmental impacts of the coal industry at Kent State University in Ohio, said,

"The lack of toxicological data on MCMH is staggering."

He added: "While I'm unaware of any spill of this chemical in the past, there have been multiple high-profile cases in the past in which slurry impoundments—structures holding the residue from coal washing and preparation—have failed. Because of this, it seems reasonable to expect that we should have detailed information available for all chemicals used to prepare coal."

Lunder said it appears that companies did report some production information on the chemical to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011, but that "it was kept confidential." Calls for comment to the EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have not been returned.

Lunder added that 4-methylcyclohexane methanol does not appear to be very volatile, so it is unlikely to evaporate quickly. "But how long it will take to break down is unclear," she said.

Lutz added that it's possible the chemical was quickly diluted once it reached the larger Kanawha River from the smaller Elk River, although he noted that it is hard to know, given the lack of toxicological data.

End of excerpt.


Officials start to clear West Virginia regions of chemically tainted water

I agree with the residents: Don't drink the water yet.


West Virginia Water Crisis: Behind Chemical Spill, Gaping Holes in State and Federal Regulation

Environmental inspectors have not visited Freedom Industries since 1991! It's unconscienable but I am sure this is only one instance of many.

Thank you to Mike Elk and Erin Brockovich for your truth in this video.

Anyone in state or federal government working to lessen regulation on industry should be voted out of office and also held liable for any damages associated with their greed and apathy!

Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing "Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen"



Home • Environmental Education • Watch a Local Reporter Refuse to Let Smug President of Company Responsible for Poisoned WV Water Off the Hook

I saw this part of the interview on my local tv station in NJ and was trying to find footage because I thought it was so incredibly rude and insensitive that he was drinking bottled water at the time of the smug interview he gave. Good to see there are reporters who do their jobs. Kudos to her.

West Virginia Chemical Spill Declared Federal Disaster

My question is how many of these spills have already happened nationwide contaminating our waterways and threatening our health that we didn't hear of?

More updates to follow.

Meet Freedom Industries, the Company Behind the West Virginia Chemical Spill

"Some 300,000 residents of Charleston, W.Va., and environs are going into their fifth day without tap water for drinking, cooking, or bathing after a coal-processing chemical leaked into the local water supply from a plant on the Elk River. That plant is owned by a closely held company called Freedom Industries. Many West Virginians, not to mention state and federal investigators, have questions about Freedom Industries. Some preliminary answers:

How long has this outfit been around?

About two weeks, in its current form. Freedom Industries is the product of a merger effective Dec. 31, 2013, that combined Etowah River Terminal, the facility where the leak occurred, Crete Technologies, and Poca Blending, located in nearby Nitro. A predecessor company called Freedom Industries was formed in 1986, according to our colleagues at Bloomberg News. How the pieces of the newly formed mini-conglomerate fit together merits urgent inquiry, as does the question of whether there’s any connection between the corporate mash-up and the fateful opening of a one-inch hole that allowed a noxious chemical to escape.

Who’s behind Freedom Industries?

Gary Southern, company president, has been speaking on behalf of Freedom. Legal filings show that Southern is also the president of a company called Enviromine Inc., which supplies “environmental chemistries and services” to coal companies.

At the same time, Freedom’s website list Dennis P. Farrell as president. That clearly needs sorting out. According to the Charleston Gazette, Farrell was the “organizer” of Etowah River Terminal, the Freedom facility where the seepage occurred. The local paper also noted that Farrell’s girlfriend, Kathy Stover-Kennedy, has defended him on her Facebook page. “I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy,” Stover-Kennedy wrote on Jan. 10, “but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!”

One hopes, of course, that Stover-Kennedy and the boys at the Freedom Industries plant are still feeling good. The chemical that got into the Charleston-area water—7,500 gallons at last count—is known as 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM. It’s used to “wash” coal to remove impurities and pollutants before burning. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says it’s harmful if swallowed or inhaled."

End of excerpt.



Addendum in regards to political partisanship coming before moral principle I mentioned in original posting on this: In trying to research about Freedom Industries, I came across a story posted on a Daily Kos page (and others that have also picked it up) intimating that the chemicals that leaked in West Virginia were purchased from Georgia Pacific/Koch Industries. (Per Wikipedia, Freedom Industries is listed as a "distributor" for Georgia Pacific as nothing is actually made there, so there is a link only not in regards to where this particular chemical was purchased.)

However, this retraction piece from DeSmog Blog states that the chemicals were purchased from Eastman Chemical.

Now why would sites put out such information without checking its accuracy? Could it be for politically partisan reasons because they see a chance for political revenge rather than assessing the truth and being outraged based on the damage to the environment and health of the citizens (600 who have fallen ill) of West Virginia? It appears to me that DeSmog Blog retracted that because they checked it out and discovered that the chemicals had been purchased from Eastman Chemical.

While it is well known that Koch Industries is involved in the destruction of this planet through pushing for deregulation and investing in tarsands, fracking and should be made criminally liable for it we still need to deal with the facts in this instance. Actually if any political entity is to be blamed it is the "Tea Party" that has done nothing but try to rescind regulations on water in many states and the blame also falls on Freedom Industries more than likely for having storage tanks that were old and leaky combined with that lax regulation as well as American Water Works.

It is definitely going to have to be the people of West Virginia who stand up against this in order to have a safer cleaner future. This is about the immorality of the actions and now addressing them to keep people, waterways and air safe. I have a feeling those responsible for this would be the miserable, smug, arrogant uncaring people they are regardless of the letter next to their name. Greed tends to do that to you.

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