Once the DEP officials saw the leak though, they called their superiors and got DEP's emergency response, water pollution and hazardous materials crews headed to the site.
In one enforcement order, DEP officials allege that the company had taken "no spill containment measures" prior to agency staffers arriving at the site and discovering the leak.
"The facility did not give any real attention to containment," Bauerle said.
State and county officials have described the Freedom facility's spill containment dike as full of cracks and holes.
"It's a very old dike," Sigman said. "If it had been my home's foundation, I would be concerned."
DEP emergency response director Mike Dorsey has said he learned the company at some point had put $1 million into an escrow account for repairs. It's not clear when that account was created or what -- if any -- timeline Freedom officials had for the fixes.
But questions continue about how Freedom's problems received no attention from regulators prior to the leak.
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman has said that the facility fell through the cracks. It made no chemicals on site, Huffman said, and was not regularly inspected because it only stored and shipped products.
But DEP officials have given the facility a storm water plan, under a "general permit" program that is less rigorous than obtaining a site-specific pollution permit.
Under the permit, the company was required to have a spill prevention plan and to immediately report potentially dangerous spills to the state. DEP had authority to inspect the site to ensure compliance with the period.
DEP officials, though, say that Freedom Industries didn't report the leak to them until 12:05 p.m. Thursday, and even then did so only because DEP officials told them they had to do so.
"Freedom Industries was explicitly required to report the spill immediately to DEP," said Jennifer Chavez, a lawyer with the group Earthjustice. "The company's failure to do so was a violation of its storm water permit."
At the federal government's National Response Center, which takes reports of hazardous material spills around the country, a report is on file about the incident. But officials there say it didn't come from Freedom Industries or from West Virginia American Water. Instead, National Response Center staff typed up the report based on local media reports pulled from the Internet.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin issued a second statement, repeating his promise of a criminal investigation, and said the probe would include issues about the company's compliance with chemical accident reporting laws.
"As the immediate water crisis begins to ease and West Virginians regain access to drinkable water, I want to make three things clear," Goodwin said.
"One, my office will continue working as quickly as possible to find out exactly what happened here, including the complete timeline of the release and what was done -- or not done -- before and after it," he said. "Two, if our investigation reveals that federal criminal laws were violated, we will move rapidly to hold the wrongdoers accountable. And three, companies whose facilities could affect the public water supply should be on notice: If you break federal environmental laws, you will be prosecuted. Our drinking water is not something you can take chances with, and this mess can never be allowed to happen again."Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.