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Company increases chemical leak estimate

By Staff, wire reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia regulators say a company has increased its estimate of a chemical mixture that leaked from a storage tank.

The Department of Environmental Protection says Freedom Industries now says about 10,000 gallons leaked from the Charleston plant, up from an initial estimate of about 7,500 gallons.

"We are not making any judgment about [the estimate's] accuracy," WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman said in a prepared statement. "We felt it was important to provide to the public what the company has provided the WVDEP in writing. We are still reviewing the calculation and this is something that will be researched further during the course of this investigation.

"This is the first calculation that has been provided concerning the amount of materials that spilled on Jan. 9," Huffman said. "This new calculation does not change any of our protocols in dealing with this spill, nor does it affect the ongoing remediation efforts. Our actions have never been dependent on what Freedom has reported to us. From the start, we have acted aggressively to contain the spill and remediate the site."

 The DEP says it's still unknown how much of the chemical mixture spilled into the Elk River and forced 300,000 residents in nine counties to stop using their tap water for up to a week except for flushing toilets.

After the initial leak, Freedom Industries later said a second chemical was mixed with the coal-cleaning agent that spilled on Jan. 9.

On Saturday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered the company to remove all 17 of its above-ground storage tanks.


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