MAP TO PROSPERITY: Other questions, other answers - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

MAP TO PROSPERITY: Other questions, other answers

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  • MAP TO PROSPERITY: Other questions, other answersMore>>

  • Map to Prosperity

    Map to Prosperity

    Thursday, January 2 2014 11:59 AM EST2014-01-02 16:59:08 GMT
    "Map to Prosperity" is a long-term project of The State Journal that will deeply examine government and business in West Virginia — both the perceptions and the reality.
    "Map to Prosperity" is a long-term project of The State Journal that will deeply examine government and business in West Virginia — both the perceptions and the reality.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Brush Fire Burns on Herndon Mountain

    Brush Fire Burns on Herndon Mountain

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:09 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:09:30 GMT
    Brush Fire on Herndon Mountain taken by Larry MarrsBrush Fire on Herndon Mountain taken by Larry Marrs
    A large brush fire is burning in Wyoming County Thursday night (4/24). The fire is covering around 160 acres on Herndon Mountain near Garwood and Alpoca.
    A large brush fire is burning in Wyoming County Thursday night (4/24). The fire is covering around 160 acres on Herndon Mountain near Garwood and Alpoca.
  • Gala to be Held for the Restoration of the John Henry Museum and Gift Shop

    Gala to be Held for the Restoration of the John Henry Museum and Gift Shop

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:53:29 GMT
    HINTON -- The Hinton Hope Foundation, along with the John Henry Historical Society, are hosting a fundraiser gala on Saturday, May 10 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The proceeds of the event will go towards the renovation of the new John Henry Museum and Gift Shop in Talcott. The gala will be held at the 19th century building, which is the future site of the museum. John Henry memorabilia, historic paintings, and antiques will be up for auction and local bands will provide entertainment.The renovation...
    HINTON -- The Hinton Hope Foundation, along with the John Henry Historical Society, are hosting a fundraiser gala on Saturday, May 10 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The proceeds of the event will go towards the renovation of the new John Henry Museum and Gift Shop in Talcott. The gala will be held at the 19th century building, which is the future site of the museum. John Henry memorabilia, historic paintings, and antiques will be up for auction and local bands will provide entertainment.The renovation...
  • Bud/Alpoca dirty water runs clear, for now?

    Bud/Alpoca dirty water runs clear, for now?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:52:23 GMT
    In Wyoming County, people in Bud and Alpoca have been living without clean water for almost a year.
    In Wyoming County, people in Bud and Alpoca have been living without clean water for almost a year.

In an interview with The State Journal, Randy Huffman, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, discussed several side issues that are related to the spill of crude MCHM in to the Elk River.

On mine site testing:

Crude MCHM is used at coal mines, where runoff is supposed to be caught in settling ponds. Some analytical work is being done where coal mines have used crude MCHM to see how much has gotten into sources of drinking water. 

"We have not found any in the streams; we have found some in the ponds," Huffman said. "The coal industry is doing some sampling themselves.

"Since it's not a regulated substance, there's not a water quality standard. There's not even a drinking water standard for it."

On the amount of MCHM leaked:

A number of people were surprised Jan. 27 when state officials said they had received revised numbers from Freedom Industries about how much material may have escaped from a storage tank and its surrounding containment area.

State officials had been led to believe about 7,500 gallons had escaped. After Freedom Industries ran some numbers, the amount came to more than 10,000 gallons.

"Numbers have been going up and down for three weeks," Huffman said. 

The exact amount of crude MCHM that leaked from the tank and the amount that entered the Elk will be established during the Chemical Safety Board investigation, he said.

As far as the DEP is concerned, the amount that leaked is not significant at this point, Huffman said.

"How much you say was there three weeks later is irrelevant to what was there the day we were dealing with it," he said.

On the consent decree:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office announced Jan. 25 that Freedom Industries had signed a consent decree to remove all chemicals stored at its Elk River site and to begin dismantling the 17 tanks there no later than March 15. A few days later, federal investigators showed up at the site to examine the property.

While state officials were dealing with the spill in its early hours and early days, the question had to be answered about whether Freedom Industries could ever operate a tank farm on its Elk River site again, Huffman said. 

The answer was obvious, except for the legal angle. So, state officials began researching whether they could order Freedom Industries to raze its tanks.

"We decided to just hit them with it," Huffman said. "I think they knew they weren't going to be able to operate there again. Rather than test our authority, we put it in the form of a consent order, and they agreed to it."

Although demolition must begin by March 15, no date has been set yet for demolition work to be complete, Huffman said. Huffman said as far as he knows, the tanks will be sold as scrap.

"I've had no request to have them stored as evidence," he said.

On freedom of information act:

The DEP received a number of Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to the spill. Some replies were mailed late last week, and others were mailed Jan. 27, Huffman said.

Huffman said he has answered many questions in the past three weeks, but as the recipients receive their FOIA documents, he expects many of the questions to be pushed down through the organization to people who can answer specific questions.