Freedom Industries submits first part of its decommission plan - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Freedom Industries submits first part of its decommission plan

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has approved the first phase of the tank decommission plan of Freedom Industries' Charleston facility where MCHM and other chemicals spilled into the Elk River Jan. 9, spoiling the water for 300,000 people in parts of nine southern West Virginia counties.

The plan was prepared by Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., a company from Export, PA., and details the order of activities, procedures and safeguards workers will use to begin removing the above-ground storage tanks at the facility.

Freedom was ordered to begin the process of dismantling, removing and properly disposing of all of its above-ground storage tanks, as well as the associated piping and machinery at the Elk River site, by March 15. The 14-page plan outlines dust control, stormwater management, precautions in case of spills or releases and regulatory compliance.

None of the materials stored in the tanks are considered "hazardous waste" under either West Virginia or federal law. The DEP has indicated that the odors associated with MCHM will again be present as construction activities at the plant intensify.

According to the DEP, most of the tanks' liquid inventory has been removed, with the exception of tank heel in a number of the above-ground storage tanks. Tank heel is the product that remains in the bottom of storage tanks because it can't be removed through the normal pumping procedures.

Freedom Industries conducted an asbestos survey to facilitate the demolition of the tanks and associated infrastructure. The company also will start a lead-based paint assessment study.

According to the tank decommission plan, contractors will first begin removing tanks at the north end of the property. Workers already have cut a hole in tank No. 393, the tank responsible for the Jan. 9 leak. It will be cleaned and sandblasted by the Chemical Safety Board. Contractors will remove the floor section of the tank, and it will be retained by the CSB.

To protect area water, liner materials that cannot be penetrated will be used to cover the areas exposed during tank removal operations, according to the DEP, and workers also must take all necessary steps to prevent spills or releases to the ground or the Elk River.

Freedom Industries is required to give a 48-hour notice to WVDEP representatives as well as representatives for litigation parties and counsel for the Unsecured Creditors Committee prior to entering into a demolition contract and commencing field work at the Elk River facility.

Freedom Industries said on Saturday, March 15, that crews were in the process of dismantling the pipes, and that it may be the end of March or the beginning of April before the entire process is complete.