For example, Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., asked the CSB's Moure-Eraso to explain the board's recommendation for a new chemical accident prevention program.
"The CSB's previous recommendations aimed at empowering a government agency to determine just what posed a high hazard," Moure-Eraso said. "Perhaps qualified inspectors would have considered aging chemical storage tanks, located just upstream from a public drinking water treatment plant to be potentially 'highly hazardous' and worthy of a closer look."
But Rahall didn't follow up to ask Tierney why state officials didn't implement the board's recommendation when it was made more than three years ago.
The hearing did bring new emphasis to some parts of the timeline of the spill and its aftermath.
For example, Mike Dorsey, director of homeland security and emergency response for the state Department of Environmental Protection, described some of what he saw when he arrived at the tank farm just after noon Jan. 9.
"At this time, it was apparent that MCHM, and as we later learned, propylene glycol phenyl ether, or PPH, was leaking through a retaining wall that was part of the facility's secondary containment," Dorsey told lawmakers. "The drain pipe was leaking through a rusted bottom into an erosion ditch about 5 to 10 feet below the containment wall, and the material that was exiting through the wall was draining directly into a rubble-filled swale that is located where an old fire suppression intake had been located."
Dorsey added, "While it was impossible to identify sources where the material was entering the river, it was clear that the above-mentioned sources were the primary routes of entry into the river for the MCHM."
And Dorsey, a longtime DEP official, did offer one clear example of a lesson he's learned from the incident. Emergency response officials began the incident almost assuming Crude MCHM wasn't too dangerous, because it wasn't listed as "hazardous" under several federal programs.
"The fallacy of that type of assumption is clear now," Dorsey said.
Another witness, Gordon Merry, director of Cabell County's Office of Emergency Services, described his agency's frustration with being unable to get a phone call returned by West Virginia American Water.
"I never did get through," Merry said. "I never got an answer to my messages."
Dale Petry, director of emergency services for Kanawha County, described for lawmakers how Dennis Ferrell of Freedom Industries assured first responders that "not much" of the chemical had spilled into the river.
Several hours later, it became clear the incident was more serious, when Anita Ray of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department told Petry's office they were receiving calls about a licorice-type taste and smell in the area's drinking water.
McIntyre, the water company president, explained in more detail than before that prior to the spill, extreme cold followed by warming weather had led to line breaks and customers running their taps to prevent pipes from freezing.
"System storage was low and losing water even though the treatment plant was running at full capacity," McIntyre said. "Our best judgment, based on these circumstances was that shutting down the plant would quickly result in the loss of the entire distribution system, meaning no water would have been available for any purposes."
Safely restarting the plant could have taken a month, McIntrye said.
Toward the end of the hearing, Sen. Joe Manchin criticized Tierney for her Bridge Day analogy.
"I've been to Bridge Day many times," Manchin said. "I did not think it was safe. You understand they all signed a waiver. They signed a waiver of the danger to hold nobody responsible. We shouldn't have to sign a waiver to drink our water."
Tierney responded, "I agree. I just, as a doctor, I cannot countenance jumping off a bridge."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.