Saturday, January 11, 2014

Toxic Water in West Virginia

Reprinted from No Fracking Way


by Dory Hippauf on January 11, 2014
warer pollution

Residents of nine West Virginia counties, between 100,000 homes and businesses (approximately 300,000 people) have been told by their governor “DON’T DRINK THE WATER”.     Schools, restaurants, hotels and other businesses were forced to close due to contaminated water supplies.   The West Virginia State Legislature canceled their sessions on Friday, Jan 10, 2013 as well.

People are being told to only use their home water for flushing the toilet.    They should not be drinking, cooking, bathing, washing their face, brushing their teeth, watering plants or washing their clothes in it.

This is a FLUSH ONLY order.

Complaints received on Thursday evening (Jan 9, 2013) of a licorice smell in the air led Kanawha County Fire Department and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to chemical storage tanks along the Elk River.   They discovered a 350,000 gallon leaking chemical storage tank owned and operated by Freedom Industries, Inc.

The leaking tank is one of 13 owned by Freedom Industries, Inc. at their Etowah River Terminal.  According to their website, there are 13 tanks capable of holding up a combined total of 4,000,000 gallons.

Etowah River Terminal is a liquid bulk storage and distribution facility servicing the Port of Charleston, West Virginia. The terminal is located on the Elk River, 2.5 miles from the Kanawha River in Downtown Charleston. Etowah River Terminal operates 13 bulk tanks with a total liquid storage capacity of 4,000,000 gallons.
freedom industries-county map
The DON’T DRINK THE WATER BAN is in effect for West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Cabell, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.
West Virginia American Water says Culloden water customers are the only ones affected by the water ban. No other Cabell County customers are affected.   West Virginia American Water says customers on Queen Shoals PSD, Lincoln PSD, City of Culloden PSD and Reamer Hill are also impacted by the advisory.

The federal government and WV Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared the counties a disaster area and the WV National Guard is dispensing bottled drinking water to emergency service agencies in the counties hit by the chemical leak.    Once again it’s WE THE PEOPLE who are footing the bill to clean up yet another corporate disaster.

Stores ran out of bottled water by Thursday night as word of the water contamination spread.
At a Friday (1/10/13) Press Conference, President of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern said they were sorry.    “This incident is extremely unfortunate and unanticipated,” Southern said. “We are very sorry for the disruption.”

No surprise there, with rare exceptions, most corporations are sorry when they create a disaster.  Being “sorry” after the fact is more cost effective than spending money to prevent the situation from happening in the first place.

Southern did not elaborate as to what caused the leak, but hinted it could have been due to recent cold temperatures.    In other words, it wasn’t their fault.   Again no surprise, you can count the number of corporations actually taking responsibility for their disasters on one hand.


The leaked product is reported as being 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which is used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation.    It’s a colorless liquid that smells like black licorice.

Per NBC News: Methylcyclohexane can be dangerous in high concentrations, but generally causes eye, skin and throat irritation, trouble breathing and dizziness or drowsiness if people are exposed, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It can cause pneumonia if it’s breathed deep into the lungs and nausea if it’s swallowed. The effects of prolonged exposure aren’t clear.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, Symptoms of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol  exposure include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches (ranging in severity)
  • Diarrhea
  • Reddened skin
  • Itching
  • Rashes
Little is known about the safety implications for 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, according to the state’s Poison Control director Dr. Elizabeth Scharman because it hasn’t been adequately studied.

The Material Safety Data Sheet, mandated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and provided by the chemical’s manufacturer, says, “No specific information is available in our data base regarding the toxic effects of this material for humans.”

freedom industries-msds

YES, West VIRGINIA, there’s FRACKING Chemicals in your water.

Methylcyclohexane  is on a list contained in an April 2011 report, CHEMICALS USED IN HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (see page 23 of the report), prepared for the US House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce .
freedom industries -methycyclohexane
In April of 2000, Freedom Industries purchased The Performance Chemicals Division of TETRA Technologies.   TETRA Technologies originally developed the Performance Chemical Division to support their extensive work in the Oil & Gas industry.  We do not know the extent or if Freedom Industries is supplying the fossil fuel industry’s fracking operations.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, Director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, describes the chemical leaked from Freedom Industries into the Elk River, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (Crude MCHM), as a kind of detergent used to clean coal, a surfactant.
Back in 2011, Brad Miller, General Manager of Regulatory Affairs, Anadarko Petroleum, when asked how to explain fracking chemicals, stated:
  • Tell them biocides are bleach:   Hydraulic fracturing – We talk about biocides. Wow, that’s a big word. That’s bleach. So we’ve got to start talking bleach. . . So we need to kind of bring what we put in there down to where people can understand.
  • Tell them polyacrylamides are ChapStick:   —polyacrylamides—Ah, people get really worried when you talk about putting polyacrylamide in frack that they’re gonna pump down a well. What is that? It’s chap stick – so take your stick of chap stick when somebody talks about polyacrylamides.  So we need to kind of bring what we put in there down to where people can understand.
  • Tell them surfactants are Dove Soap, Surfactants? It’s Dove Soap.
Bill Tis of Freedom Industries, Inc.  appeared as a key presenter at the Utica-2012 convention hosted by the Energy Forum.   He spoke about Nano Technology and its application in drilling and fracking.
For more on the “ENERGY FORUM” see: Natural Gas Energy Forum Clones.
freedom industries nano tech


Other information regarding Freedom Industries came to light in a Charleston Gazette article dated January 10, 2013, written by David Gutman. – “Freedom Industries Execs are Longtime Colleagues”.
Freedom Industries was founded in 1992 by Southern and Kennedy, according to filings with the West Virginia secretary of state.

Kennedy is still listed as “incorporator” on the secretary of state’s website, but a woman who answered the phone at Freedom Industries said he left the company “years ago.”

In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay more than $200,000 in income taxes, according to reports at the time. In 1987, he pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine, according to reports.

On page 2 of article: The site, just a few feet from the Elk River, has 13 bulk tanks and a total liquid storage capacity of 4 million gallons, according to the Etowah website.

Etowah’s business license was terminated when it merged with Freedom Industries on Dec. 31 of last year.

It appears that Southern became president and Farrell became a top executive when the two companies merged.

Southern is also listed as president of Enviromine, which makes products to help remediate environmental problems from mining.

The secretary of state filing for Enviromine lists an address for Southern in Marco Island, Fla.

Mike Murphy, an Enviromine employee, confirmed that Southern is still with the company but would not provide any more information.


The WVDEP has cited Freedom Industries with violations of West Virginia’s Air Pollution and Water Pollution Control Act with the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.

DEP officials have said between 2,000 gallons and 5,000 gallons of the material leaked from a hole in a storage tank designed to hold up to 350,000 gallons.  A concrete-block dike, meant to serve as secondary containment, also leaked, allowing an undetermined amount of the chemical into the Elk.
The contents of two additional tanks at Freedom Industries’ Etowah River Terminal was ordered to be emptied on Friday afternoon.  This was followed by an early evening order for Freedom Industries to empty all the tanks at the facility for a total of 13 tanks.   A combined total capacity for these 13 tanks is approximately 4-million gallons.

The WVDEP issued a Cease Operations Order to Freedom Industries earlier in the day Jan. 10.
In an air-quality enforcement order, the WVDEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”

WVDEP Secretary Randy Huffman stated the WVDEP issued the third enforcement order — which requires the company to removal all materials from all of the tanks at the operation — because of problems with the facility’s secondary containment.

The most recent order requires Freedom Industries to remove all material from above-ground storage tanks within 24 hours and then store the material in an off-site area that provides adequate secondary containment.

The company also must submit approval for an appropriate plan of corrective action within 24 hours that, at a minimum, must include a detailed plan to appropriately implement a remediation of all contaminated soil and/or groundwater as well as a plan and a schedule for the ultimate disposition of the products stored in the tanks.

Per CNN, water testing done on Friday is showing the chemical contamination levels is dropping, but not enough to lift the “FLUSH ONLY” order.

While the reduction in contamination levels is good news for the effected WV counties it is important to note, the reduced levels is NOT due to any efforts to remove 4-methylcyclohexane methanol from the water.  Reduced levels are due to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol being diluted and washed further down river.
freedom industries-elk river map
The Elk River is formed in the Allegheny Mountains in Pocahontas County by the confluence of two short streams, the Big Spring Fork and the Old Field Fork, which join near the community of Slatyfork. It flows above ground for several miles before it sinks into a network of caverns and flows underground for more than five miles. The old riverbed of solid rock, however, remains above ground in this section known as “The Dries.” It follows a generally westward course across the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau, through Randolph, Webster, Braxton, Clay, and Kanawha Counties, past the towns of Webster Springs, Sutton, Gassaway, Clay, Clendenin, and Elkview before joining the Kanawha River at Charleston.

The Kanawha River flows generally northwest, in a winding course on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau, through Fayette, Kanawha, Putnam, and Mason counties, past the cities of Charleston and St. Albans, and numerous smaller communities. It joins the Ohio at Point Pleasant.

Heads up POINT PLEASANT OHIO and start sniffing your water.   If it smells like licorice – remember DO NOT USE THE WATER EXCEPT FOR FLUSHING.
©2014 by Dory Hippauf

1 comment:

Corey said...

See, regulations leave people thirsty. What they don't know wont hurt them. Isn't that the Libertarian-Conservative-FreeTrade-Capitalsts say!