UPDATE: Tank that contributed to chemical spill demolished - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Tank that contributed to chemical spill demolished

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UPDATE, 4 p.m., July 29:

The tank that contributed to the chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians has been demolished.

Tank 396 was set to come down during the demolition process, which started on July 15 and was set to end July 25. However, Mark Welch, restructuring officer for Freedom Industries, said in bankruptcy court the deadline would not be met.

The tank that contributed to the chemical spill after Freedom Industries failed to have proper secondary containment in place, ultimately came down on July 29.

Original Story, 4:42 p.m., July 15:

The tank demolition process at the Freedom Industries site, responsible for the leak of MCHM into the Elk River, officially started July 15.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said the project will last two to four weeks – barring no major weather delays.

The restructuring team and the contractor, Independence Excavating, began mobilizing equipment at the site this morning and started the cutting process late this afternoon. The project involves 10 steel tanks.

Another four will be left on site to store stormwater runoff – any rainwater or shallow groundwater that comes into contact with potentially contaminated soil.

The West Virginia DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management approved a stormwater management plan for the demolition activities July 15. Approval of this plan was required before the tank dismantling project could begin.

The plan involves:

  • Covering areas in the footprint of the tanks with liners so the contaminated soil will not be exposed to rain during the demolition 
  • Preventing cross-contamination of soils by removing excess dirt and mud from equipment and boots 
  • Using a vacuum truck to collect liquid material found on the surface after the tanks are removed 
  • Halting work during significant rain events 
  • Limiting traffic, both foot traffic and vehicle/equipment traffic, on site 
  • Placing dismantled material within the containment wall area until it is loaded and hauled away 
  • Maintaining and carefully monitoring the existing sump pumps and collection trenches 
DEP inspectors were on site for the beginning of the demolition and will continue to be on site throughout the duration of the project. 

Also, an asbestos removal contractor will be on hand to inspect for possible asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in areas that could not be included in the asbestos inspection conducted last month.

Once the tanks are removed, thorough soil and groundwater analysis can be conducted to determine the scope of the contamination and the steps needed to remediate the site.