FSome crude MCHM transported to PA prep plant - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Some crude MCHM transported to PA prep plant

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A company claims it will wait to move more crude MCHM from a storage site in Nitro, according to Tom Aluise, a spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

The state agency has asked Freedom Industries to disclose whenever it plans to move crude MCHM, the chemical that contaminated the drinking water of nearly 300,000 West Virginians.

"We asked them to tell us ahead of time when they're going to start moving that stuff and when they're going to start selling it," Aluise said. "We thought it would be wise to issue a news release because of people's sensitivity to the odor."

On Jan. 9, first responders traced the leak to the Etowah River Terminal--a storage tank farm operated by Freedom. Investigators said they believe at least 10,000 gallons of the chemical escaped from a container.

A DEP order issued Jan. 10 forced Freedom to re-locate the chemical after they discovered a hole in the tank containing crude MCHM. Contractors transferred the remaining material to another Freedom entity, Poca Blending, in Nitro.

Days later, inspectors issued five violations to Freedom. They cited the company for a lack of secondary containment, a secondary safeguard to keep the chemical from leaking. Aluise said the company has transferred much of the material to double-walled Baker tanks, but he's not sure if enough of these containers were ordered.

In the meantime, Freedom has been continuing to sell the crude MCHM, according to Aluise. Tanker trucks transported thousands of gallons of the chemical this week. On Tuesday, approximately 4,100 gallons left Poca Blending; on Wednesday, 5865 gallons; on Thursday, 4,700 left.

"They're not under any order to move that stuff off that site," Aluise said in a phone interview Jan. 7. "What they're doing, they're selling the product to customers."

Aluise said the next shipment of crude MCHM will leave Poca Blending in Nitro on Feb. 17. He could not immediately say why.

The DEP issued a news release Tuesday, announcing Freedom would be transferring 3,500 gallons of crude MCHM to Pennsylvania. Aluise revised that estimate to 4,100 Friday.

That tanker brought the chemical to the Dutch Run Prep Plant in Armstrong County, Penn., confirmed John Poister, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Dutch Run is operated by Freedom Industries' parent company, Rosebud Mining Company. The coal prep plant is located approximately 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Environmental regulators in Pennsylvania were not notified prior to the move, as first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The PA DEP called their counterparts in West Virginia to learn more about the chemical, Aluise confirmed. This happened after crews had moved the chemical.
A local emergency manager was also left out of the loop.

"Yes, I would have appreciated a little more notification that this was coming to us," said Randy Brozenick, the director of the department public safety in Armstrong County.

Brozenick said he's been in contact with the PA DEP to best monitor the situation.

"They are meeting all DEP's requirement for the state to bring those chemicals here," Brozenick said.

In Pennsylvania, DEP regulations govern above-ground storage facilities. Brozenick said he can't remember any problems stemming from the Dutch Run prep plant, a facility that's stored crude MCHM in the past.

Approximately 90,000 gallons of crude MCHM remain at Poca Blending, according to Aluise. He said most of the material was stored at the site before the chemical leak.

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