Freedom Industries submits first phase of tank plan


Freedom Industries has submitted the first phase of the Tank Decommission Plan for its Charleston facility, site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill of MCHM into the Elk River.

The Plan, which has been approved by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), was prepared for Freedom Industries by Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., out of Export, Pa. It details the order of activities, accompanying procedures and safeguards workers will use to begin the removal of above ground storage tanks (ASTs) at the facility, including tank No. 396 that leaked an estimated 10,000 gallons of MCHM and another chemical, PPH.

On Jan. 24, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered Freedom Industries to begin, by March 15, the process of dismantling, removing and properly disposing of all of its ASTs, as well as associated piping and machinery, at the Elk River site. The governor’s directive was included in Consent Order 8034 issued by the WVDEP and signed by Freedom Industries.

To comply with Order 8034, Freedom Industries has begun the process of decommissioning and cleaning its tanks for demolition. Most of the tanks’ liquid inventory has been removed, with the exception of tank heel in a number of the ASTs. Tank heel is the product that remains in the bottom of storage tanks because it can’t be removed through the normal pumping procedures.

Freedom Industries also has conducted an asbestos survey to facilitate the demolition of the tanks and the associated infrastructure and will initiate a lead-based paint assessment in association with the ASTs.

According to the Tank Decommission Plan, contractors will first begin removing ASTs on the north end of the Freedom Industries’ property, near the faulty tank No. 396. Workers have already cut a hole in Tank No. 393, located on the far north end of the site, to remove the tank heel. Tank No. 396 will be cleaned and sandblasted by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB). Contractors will remove the floor section of the tank, which will be retained by the CSB.

During tank removal, steps will be taken to control dust and other airborne emissions from the property. No on-site burning will be permitted. It is likely that MCHM odors associated with the site will increase as construction activities intensify at Freedom Industries.

Efforts also will be made to control the infiltration of stormwater on site and to minimize its contact with other on-site and potentially contaminated water. Impervious liner materials will be used to cover areas exposed during tank removal operations. Workers also must take all steps necessary to prevent spills or releases to the ground or Elk River.

Prior to both entering into a demolition contract and commencing field work at the Elk River facility, Freedom Industries is required to give 48-hour notice to the WVDEP, representatives for the Litigation Parties per U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson’s Feb. 21 Order, and to counsel for the Unsecured Creditors Committee.

To see a copy of the plan, click here


Tom Aluise