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DEP promises to monitor Freedom's material move

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia regulators promised Tuesday they would "closely monitor" the situation as Freedom Industries moves chemicals from the Jan. 9 spill from its Nitro facility to a "coal facility" in Pennsylvania.

But, the state Department of Environmental Protection warned the process could create more of the licorice-like odors that have become common since the spill.

In a prepared statement, the DEP said Freedom had begun the process of transferring material from its Poca Blending site in Nitro to the Pennsylvania location.

The DEP said the company informed agency officials of the activity Monday night, and DEP issued a news release Tuesday afternoon about the issue.

The materials in question include MCHM and other chemical-spill related materials from Freedom's Elk River tank farm.

"Freedom was scheduled this morning to transfer to a coal facility in Pennsylvania approximately 3,500 gallons of MCHM from an inventory that was already being stored at Poca Blending prior to the Jan. 9 chemical leak at Freedom's Elk River facility," the DEP statement said.

DEP spokesman Tom Aluise said he did not have any information about the Pennsylvania site.

"Freedom said it will continue MCHM shipments from Poca Blending to customers over the next several days and weeks," the DEP statement said. "Those shipments will include both MCHM transferred to Poca Blending from the Elk River spill site and MCHM already being stored at Nitro."

DEP officials said it would have inspectors on site as Freedom unloads tanks and transfers the materials.

"During the moving of materials, there is a potential for area residents to detect odors," the DEP statement said. "The WVDEP will closely monitor the activity to ensure that it is done safely and with as minimal of an odor impact as possible."

The week after the Elk River spill, the DEP cited Freedom Industries for a broad variety of violations after an inspection of the Poca Blending site. The DEP issued five notices of violation, or NOVs, alleging improper storage of materials that could contaminate groundwater, failure to follow a DEP-issued stormwater permit, failure to provide required pollution discharge monitoring reports.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.

 

 


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