Policy: Environment & Energy

W.Va. chem spill co submits plan to demolish tanks

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News,Business,West Virginia,Energy and Environment,West Virginia Chemical Spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The company at the center of a chemical spill into 300,000 West Virginians' drinking water submitted plans Wednesday to demolish its facility.

Freedom Industries sent the state Department of Environmental Protection plans to decommission its Charleston tanks. Under an order issued Jan. 24 by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the company has to start by Saturday. Neighboring residents need to brace themselves for the black licorice chemical smell to return during the demolition.

"We will discuss possible ways to minimize the odor with the contractor who is doing the work," said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise.

Aluise said it is unclear when Freedom will finish gutting its headquarters.

Federal officials, including U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office and the Chemical Safety Board, are investigating the spill and still haven't secured all the evidence they need from the site. But both said there are processes in place to keep collecting what they need.

A bankruptcy court order also prevents undocumented removal of equipment from the site by Freedom, said Chemical Safety Board spokeswoman Hillary Cohen.

The breakdown plan written by Export, Pa.-based Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., says Freedom Industries will solicit bids for a demolition contractor. Overall, the company anticipates no costs or a small profit from sales of scrap metal and equipment.

Freedom is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings and winding down business operations. The company is trying to find jobs for its 51 employees.

Before starting any field work, Freedom Industries has to give 48 hours of notice to state environmental regulators and parties involved in various lawsuits and bankruptcy proceedings.

Most of the company's chemicals have been removed, except for liquid at the bottom of some tanks.

The company has to submit a variety of additional plans, including spill contingencies, stormwater management and air monitoring.

Freedom Industries is prohibited from burning waste material on site and has to remove any asbestos in the tanks.

The Jan. 9 Freedom Industries spill contaminated nine counties' water for days.

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