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Hurricane mayor still has questions after MCHM dumping stopped

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Putnam County landfill has stopped accepting MCHM-contaminated wastewater after public backlash, and a spokeswoman for the company that owns the dump said Monday "there's no need to remove" the tens of thousands of gallons already deposited there.

But Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards - who helped stir up the backlash that ended the deposits - said he's talking with lawyers and chemical experts about what to do about the material already in the landfill on W.Va. 34.

"No one really knows about this chemical," Edwards said. "So I want to make decisions on what trusted advisers tell me."

Lisa Kardell, public affairs director for Waste Management, which owns the landfill, said the wastewater was mixed with sawdust and that it has solidified and been buried. She said 36,000 to 40,000 gallons were dumped on six different days from Feb. 25 to March 13.

"There is no concern about leachate" coming from the landfill, Kardell said. "The chemicals adhere to the sawdust and trash and we don't believe there are any concerns."

She said Waste Management tests the leachate at the landfill, called Disposal Services, weekly and does an additional test monthly.

Waste Management notified Edwards Saturday that it would stop taking the deposits. The city had asked for an injunction to stop the dumping; Edwards said that request had been dropped, but the city was still weighing legal options about the contaminated material already at the landfill.

It's unclear where the wastewater will go now. State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise said the Hurricane landfill was the only facility accepting it.

The owner of Diversified Services, the company hired by Freedom Industries to clean up the Elk River site where the chemical originally leaked, said he didn't know what would happen.

One of the companies transporting the contaminated water is Diversified Services, a St. Albans contractor that has been helping clean up the Freedom Industries site since the leak.

"Don't have a clue," said Daniel Kessler. "We don't know anything since they shut it down, we don't know anything."

"No MCHM water is being moved right now, that's all I know," Kessler said. He said he couldn't comment further.

Aluise said Freedom is looking for other places to take the water - possibly out of state. He said the site cleanup must ensure MCHM doesn't get into waterways, so any rainwater or snow melt water that runs across the site is being collected.

He said Waste Management's Putnam County landfill was the company's only one with approval to accept the wastewater mixed with sawdust, with a limit of 700 combined tons from Charleston and Nitro through October.

As of this time, he said Waste Management has not applied for any of its other landfills to accept the water.

In a post on Facebook Saturday, Edwards said the deposits had stopped, and he thanked an "overwhelming public outcry" that included thousands of phone calls and pressure from officials. Kardell said she didn't know how many calls Waste Management received.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.

 


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