The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued two Notices of Violation (NOVs) today to Freedom Industries following the overflow of a stormwater collection trench meant to keep rainwater that has come into contact with potentially contaminated soil from entering the Elk River.
One of the NOVs is for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet. The second is for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of a prior order to implement an approved sump management plan.
Yesterday (Thursday, June 12), a DEP inspector, during a routine walk-through of the property, observed water overflowing the trench and entering the Elk River. The inspector immediately manually activated a pump in the trench’s sump to start pumping water from the trench into storage tanks on the site. This action stopped the overflow.
A sample was taken from the trench and additional samples were collected of West Virginia American Water’s raw and treated water from its Charleston water treatment plant, which is located approximately a mile and a half downstream of the Freedom site. All of the raw and treated water samples, a total of 14 samples tested at two different labs, came back at non-detect levels for MCHM – the material that leaked from a tank on the property on Jan. 9. One of the labs was able to test down to 10 parts per billion (ppb) and the other to 2 ppb. The sample from the trench had a detectable level of the chemical, of 2.78 parts per million (ppm).
“We weren’t surprised that there were detectable levels of MCHM in the trench. That’s the reason the trench was constructed – to catch contaminated water before it reaches the river,” said Scott Mandirola, DEP Division of Water and Waste Management director. “The most important test results for us, however, are those showing non-detectable levels of MCHM in the river at the water plant intake. Those test results are the best indicator that there are no public health concerns related to this release.”