|By Bob Weaver|
The Chemical Safety Board has released preliminary findings on Freedom Industries MCHM leak that forced hundreds of thousands of West Virginians to go without water earlier this year.
The CSB says they found visible failures on the bottom of the tank that leaked into the Elk River, indicating more than one hole that allowed the toxic chemical to spill.
The CSB said they also found no record of inspections on the tanks prior to January, 2014, although the state reported that the tanks were inspected about 1994.
Federal agencies have fined Freedom Industries for a chemical spill that tainted the water of 300,000 West Virginians earlier this year.
The fines total $11,000.
A proposed settlement in a Freedom Industries civil class-action lawsuit would use $2.9 million in insurance proceeds to fund projects for the public good.
The spilled chemicals quickly affected the water supply of West Virginia’s largest water supplier, causing problems for months in the greater Kanawha Valley.
The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Freedom Industries $7,000 for keeping storage tanks containing crude MCHM behind a diked wall that was not liquid tight.
OSHA has also fined Freedom Industries $4,000 for failing to have standard railings on an elevated platform.
Both fines were issued on July 3.
The penalties must be paid unless the company contests them.
The company has taken bankruptcy, a procedure West Virginian's should be familiar with when coal and chemical companies have had disasters and environmental problems.
In a state that the US Chamber of Commerce has continually called a "judicial hellhole," very few of the 300,000 customers and businesses affected have filed claim against Freedom Industries over the chemical spill that affected public water.
The court filings list about 70 claims filed.
The state has a long history of not following environmental standards, or holding large companies or extractors accountable.
In 1972, following Pittson Coal's collapsed Buffalo Creek dam which had been written up as a hazard numerous times, it was a disaster that resulted in the deaths of 125 people, the damages estimated at that time as $100 million dollars.
A day before leaving office, former Gov. Arch Moore, reduced the fine from $100 million to $1 million.
The dead members families, after years of civil litigation, received a few thousand dollars each.
A CALHOUN ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
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