State inspectors say that Freedom Industries, the chemical company that poisoned the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians last week, has been improperly storing the same chemicals at a second site.
Last week, a 7,500 gallon chemical spill at a Freedom facility near Charleston poisoned a major water supply serving more than 300,000 people. The massive leak of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol prompted President Obama to declare a federal emergency, enabling FEMA to assist the cleanup.
In the aftermath, Freedom Industries — "a full-service producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries" — moved its chemicals to a site in Nitro, a small town along the Kanawha River. But when state inspectors visited the backup facility, they found five major violations.
A department report described the site's secondary containment as "deteriorated or nonexistent." It described a building with holes in its walls at floor level and a trench surrounding the structure that lets stormwater mix with spilled chemicals.
Department spokesman Tom Aluise said the ditch eventually drains into the river.
The facility had no documentation of inspections of the Nitro site. Nor did it have proof of employee training in the past 10 years, the report said.
The spill has revealed the total lack of oversight involved in the chemical storage business — for example, the Elk facility where the spill occurred hadn't been inspected since 2001, when it was a refinery owned by another company subjected to more stringent regulations.
[image via AP]