Cease Operations Order Issued to Freedom Industries


The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Water and Waste Management has issued a Cease Operations Order to Freedom Industries Etowah River Terminal, LLC in connection with the company’s leak of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River from its storage facility in Charleston.

Also, the WVDEP’s Division of Air Quality has issued a Notice of Violation to Freedom Industries for causing statutory air pollution by discharging MCHM into the air.

Freedom Industries Etowah River Terminal was the site of a Jan. 9 incident during which a tank leaked an unknown quantity of MCHM into secondary containment. A portion of that material escaped secondary containment and reached the Elk River.

An investigation was initiated by the Division of Air Quality that morning following citizen complaints of objectionable odors near and downriver from Freedom Industries’ Etowah River Terminal. At 11:10 a.m., DAQ personnel discovered the source of these odors was from a leaking Crude MCHM tank and that no spill containment measures had been initiated. The crew also observed that an accumulated pool of MCHM was seeping through a containment dike.

The release occurred approximately 1.5 miles upstream from the intake of the local public water supply and the spilled material has caused conditions not allowable in the Elk River by creating odors in the vicinity of state waters, by requiring an unreasonable degree of treatment for the production of potable water, and by creating a sheen on the surface of the water, a violation of 47 CSR 2, Section 3.

As part of the DWWM order, Freedom Industries must Cease and Desist any further receipt of material to be stored within the faulty secondary containment and take all necessary measures to contain, recover and remediate the material that has escaped the facility. The facility is ordered to immediately conduct an integrity test of all the above ground storage tanks and secondary containment structures for the entire facility. Prior to resuming operations, Etowah River Terminal, LLC must provide a report for approval that documents the integrity and soundness of all storage and containment structures.

Read order here


Tom Aluise