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Tank Demolition Underway at Freedom Site

Dave Mistich
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Demolition has started on at the site of a January chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated public drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians.

Independence Excavating began the demolition process Tuesday by knocking down a brick wall, tearing out piping, and removing materials connected to the tanks. Freedom Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch says the first cuts to the tanks will come Wednesday.

Welch says Tank No. 396, where the leak originated, will come down sometime next week.

Four other tanks will be temporarily left on site to store stormwater runoff that comes into contact with potentially contaminated soil.

The company had delayed the teardown multiple times. One of the delays involved asbestos issues in tank gaskets and elsewhere.

The Department of Environmental Protection says demolition should take two to four weeks, unless there are major weather delays.

The Jan. 9 spill of a coal-cleaning agent known as MCHM prompted water-use restrictions for West Virginia American Water customers in nine counties.

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