Freedom revises spill estimate


Freedom Industries has revised its estimate to approximately 10,000 gallons as the amount of Crude MCHM/PPH blend that leaked from a storage tank at its Elk River facility in Charleston on Jan. 9. It is not known how much material spilled into the Elk River and shut down the drinking water supply for citizens across nine West Virginia counties.
Freedom said it has recovered approximately 1,272 gallons of MCHM/PPH blend in absorbent booms and other control devices at the spill site.

The revised number was included in response to a previous West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Order that required Freedom Industries to provide the methodology it was using to determine the quantity of the chemicals released. Freedom Industries’ initial estimate of the amount of materials spilled was 7,500 gallons. The WVDEP is still reviewing the contents of Freedom’s response.

“We are not making any judgment about its (estimate) accuracy,” WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman said. “We felt it was important to provide to the public what the company has provided the WVDEP in writing. We are still reviewing the calculation and this is something that will be researched further during the course of this investigation.

“This is the first calculation that has been provided concerning the amount of materials that spilled on Jan. 9,” Huffman said. “This new calculation does not change any of our protocols in dealing with this spill, nor does it affect the ongoing remediation efforts. Our actions have never been dependent on what Freedom has reported to us. From the start, we have acted aggressively to contain the spill and remediate the site.”

In its response to the WVDEP, Freedom said it had 110,375 gallons of Crude MCHM/PPD blend in three tanks on Jan. 8 at its Elk River facility. After the release was discovered the following morning, Freedom said it began emptying the three tanks and recovering the released MCHM/PPH blend. All of the material was transferred to Freedom’s Poca Blending facility in Nitro.

Freedom said it “measured” the MCHM/PPH blend that was being stored in six tanks at Poca Blending on Jan. 21 and determined there was 100,233 gallons in the six tanks.

“This figure represents the MCHM/PPH blend that was removed from the three tanks after the incident (i.e. which was not released) and the residual released MCHM/PPH blend that was recovered and transferred to the Poca facility by Jan. 21,” Freedom’s response said. “The difference between the value from the morning of Jan. 9 and the value from Jan. 21 is 10,142 gallons. We therefore estimate that that approximately 10,000 gallons of MCHM/PPH blend was released the morning of Jan. 9.”


Tom Aluise