Freedom Fined for WV Chemical Spill

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 @ 03:07 PM gHale

Freedom Industries ended up hit with $11,000 in fines for “serious” violations of health and safety laws related to the January chemical leak.

Freedom Industries ended up cited for not having a “liquid tight” wall surrounding the leaking tank at the site along the Elk River, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA fined Freedom $7,000 for the violation, according to the citation issued July 3.

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It also fined Freedom $4,000 for not having “standard railings” on an elevated platform used to cross over the secondary containment wall.

State officials discovered thousands of gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) and other chemicals leaking Jan. 9 from a tank at Freedom’s Etowah River Terminal. Some 10,000 gallons seeped under and through visible holes in the concrete wall meant to serve as an emergency barrier in the event of a leak or spill.

On January 9, more than 10,000 gallons of MCHM leaked into Charleston’s water supply from a Freedom Industries storage tank. The drinking water of more than 300,000 West Virginians ended up contaminated.

OSHA inspected the Elk River location Jan. 10, the agency’s first visit to the site.

Although investigators had a “close conference” meeting in February, the case is still open, a Department of Labor spokeswoman said late Monday.

OSHA also cited Freedom for an “other-than-serious” violation fixed during the inspection. The citation said Freedom mislabeled the tank next to the tank that leaked, saying the tank contained Glycerin — a different chemical — instead of MCHM.

The state Department of Environmental Protection determined the secondary containment wall at Poca Blending — the site where Freedom moved the MCHM and other chemicals after the leak — had holes in walls meant to contain a leak. It issued five notices of violations to Freedom for the problems at Poca Blending, classifying the secondary containment at the site as “deteriorated or non-existent.”

Lenore Uddyback-Forston, an OSHA spokeswoman, said “no issues were found at the facility.”

Freedom reported roughly $10 million in assets and $10 million in debts when it filed for bankruptcy in January. The case is ongoing.

Freedom was not immediately available for comment.



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