WV Agency Issues Shutdown Order to Freedom Industries

The chemical distributor's retaining wall around a chemical storage tank failed to prevent a leak of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol that has contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 residents.

West Virginia state agencies have taken enforcement action against Freedom Industries, the chemical distributor involved in a Jan. 9 leak of at least 3,000 gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, known as "Crude MCHM," from one of its storage tanks. The chemical has contaminated the drinking water supply to Charleston, the state capital, and surrounding counties, affecting 300,000 residents who have been told not to drink or use their tap water except for flushing toilets. Water testing continued Sunday, and schools are closed.

A retaining wall around the tank should have prevented the spill but did not, nor did Freedom Industries report the leak itself.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Water and Waste Management issued a Cease Operations Order to Freedom Industries' Etowah River Terminal, LLC after the leak was found, and the agency’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) issued a violation notice alleging that Freedom Industries caused statutory air pollution by discharging MCHM into the air.

When DAQ personnel investigated citizen complaints of objectionable odors near and downriver from the terminal, they found the leaking tank. No spill containment measures had been initiated, and a pool of MCHM was seeping through a containment dike, according to the agency.

The Water and Waste Management Division also is requiring Freedom Industries Inc. to remove the contents in 11 other above-ground storage tanks at the terminal and store the material (it includes calcium chloride and glycerin) in an off-site area that provides adequate secondary containment. The MCHM in three other tanks, including the one that leaked Jan. 9, have been removed and relocated to another facility, the agency announced Jan. 10.

An investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is scheduled to arrive Jan. 13 on the scene. "This incident continues to impact the people of West Virginia -- our goal is to find out what happened to allow a leak of such magnitude to occur and to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place to prevent a similar incident from occurring," CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's mobile app allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior on the go, with or without an internet connection. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2019

    October 2019

    Featuring:

    • WINTER HAZARDS
      Preparing for Old Man Winter's Arrival
    • CONSTRUCTION
      Staying Safe in the Trenches
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Setting a Higher Standard: The Limitations of Regulatory Limits
    • ELECTRICAL SAFETY
      Five Important Things to Know About Arc Flash PPE Programs
    View This Issue