Energy & Environment

Department of Environmental Protection

Updated Thursday March 27, 2014 at 10:53 p.m.

West Virginia America Water says test results of foam samples taken earlier today from the Elk River are complete. As the company suspected in a release earlier today, the completed test results "indicate no changes to source water quality and no characteristics outside of typical water quality parameters."

The company manages an intake for 30,000 residents in Charleston and surrounding areas that lost access to clean tap water after a chemical spill contaminated the Elk River on January 9.

In previous statements West Virginia American Water pointed out  that foam can naturally occur in organic waterways.

“After receiving notification of a foam on the Elk River this morning, and with the health and safety of our customers as our number one priority, we made the decision to shut down the plant’s raw water intake pumps for approximately two hours until more information could be gathered,” President Jeff McIntyre said in a release late Thursday night.

“System conditions today allowed for the plant to maintain adequate water storage during this brief time, which was a very different circumstance than on the day of the Freedom Industries spill. At that time, the decision to maintain water service to customers for firefighting and basic sanitation was the best decision for the communities we serve.”

Updated Thursday March 27, 2014 at 6:16 p.m.

The 35th Civil Support Team of the West Virginia National Guard Thursday afternoon received a sample of the foam on the Elk River drawn by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Lawrence Messina of Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said the CST tested the sample with a gas chromatography–mass spectrometry instrument to identify whether the foam contained man-made substances.

"Analysis of the chromatograph did not show any compounds present in the sample," said Messina in an email.

AP

A worker at Airgas USA's former facility in Putnam County is suing the company over a 2013 explosion that he says left him permanently injured.
 
William Lee Parrigan's lawsuit alleges that the company exposed him to an unsafe working condition.
 
The lawsuit claims the Winfield resident was required to "bleed out" tanks containing acetylene gas without attaching any cyclinders to a manifold system. The lawsuit says this would have prevented the release of the flammable gas into the atmosphere.
 

David M. Mistich

Antero Resources says it will be the anchor ethane supplier for a proposed cracker plant in West Virginia.
 
Antero announced an agreement on Wednesday to provide 30,000 barrels of ethane a day to the plant, if it's built.
 
Brazilian petrochemical giant Odebrecht is exploring the possibility of building the ethane cracker and three polyethylene plants in Wood County. The complex would be known as Ascent, which stands for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.
 

Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

A Virginia Tech study says a chemical that spilled into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply in January stops smelling at a level 47 times stronger than other researchers found.
 
The group that discovered the lower chemical odor level questioned the Virginia Tech team's methods.
 
The Virginia Tech group said in a news release that it detected the chemical in the air with specialized instruments. It used a gas law to calculate the corresponding odor threshold in water.
 

Appalachian Studies Association

About 800 people are expected to attend a conference at Marshall University in Huntington Friday through Sunday for the 37th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference.

Marshall University Education Professor and conference organizer Linda Spatig says the theme is New Appalachia: Known Realities and Imagined Possibilities.

AllVoices.com

An Ohio-based coal operator is suing the head of the Environmental Protection Agency over the agency's administration and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
 
Murray Energy alleges in its lawsuit that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has failed to comply with the law's requirement to evaluate the potential impact of the agency's regulatory actions on employment.
 

West Virginia American Water

Updated Tuesday, March 25 at 1:15 p.m.: 

Test results from sampling conducted by the National Guard in and around West Virginia American Water's Elk River plant indicate trace levels of MCHM are being added to the water supply during the filtering process. The results come from 42 samples collected--from various stages of the water treatment process--from Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m. through Saturday, March 22 at  6 a.m.

Results indicate raw water from the Elk River and settled water from post clarifiers (an early stage in the treatment process)--both east and west--are returning non-detectable levels of MCHM. However, results from east and west filters range from non-detectable levels to 0.60 parts per billion (ppb). Results from the finished samples, which have completed all stages of the treatment process, range from non-detectable levels to 0.53 ppb.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

The state Department of Environmental Protection is being asked to void a permit that allowed wastewater to be transported from the site of a Charleston chemical spill to a Putnam County landfill.
 
The Charleston Gazette reports the county and the city of Hurricane made the request last week.
 
Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards says he wasn't told about Waste Management's plan to dump the material mixed with sawdust at the Disposal Services landfill. The water contains traces of the crude MCHM that spilled Jan. 9, contaminating 300,000 people's drinking water for days.   

Associated Press

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a coal company fighting to reinstate a water pollution permit for a massive West Virginia strip mine.

The justices say they will not disturb a federal appeals court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency acted within its authority in 2011 when it retroactively vetoed a permit issued four years earlier by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. and its Mingo Logan Coal Co. subsidiary challenged the appellate ruling concerning the mountaintop removal coal mine in West  Logan County.

"PBC Judicial Forum"
Rick Neuhoff / Flickr

A former mine boss is asking a federal appeals court to toss out his conviction for his actions at the West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 miners in 2010. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been heavily criticized in their response to the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries and the water crisis that followed. Dr. Tanja Popvic, who represented the CDC in West Virginia at a news briefing in February, has resigned from her post as director of the federal agency's National Center for Environmental Health. Ken Ward of The Charleston Gazette breaks down Popvic's and the CDC's presence here post-spill and the response to her resignation.

National Transportation Safety Board

NiSource Inc. and two subsidiaries are being sued by two Sissonville property owners over a 2012 natural gas pipeline rupture and explosion.
 
John Hampton Tinney and his sister, Elizabeth Tinney Garten, allege in their lawsuit that the explosion rendered their property "valueless" and ruined their chances to sell it.
 

Kentucky could get its first Muslim lawmaker if one candidate is successful.

So what do folks in Bobtown, Pa., really think of those pizza gift certificates?

Pickens, W.Va., celebrates the maple syrup harvest.

And some West Virginia rocket boys put their skills to a test.

natural gas, fracking
wikimedia

A new report from a nonpartisan office of the Pennsylvania Legislature says its state's taxes on the natural gas drilling boom are among the lowest in the nation.

The figures released Thursday by the Independent Fiscal Office found that Pennsylvania is the only state with significant production that doesn't impose a severance tax based on the volume of gas produced.

AllVoices.com

A coal company has been cited by federal mining regulators for the November 2012 collapse of a Harrison County coal slurry impoundment that left a miner dead.
 
Dozer operator Markel Koon of Shinnstown and his machine were swept into the impoundment when an embankment collapsed at the Robinson Run Mine's Nolan Round impoundment near Lumberport. He was 58.
 

In this report form Ken Ward of The Charleston Gazette, West Virginia American Water president Jeff McIntyre defends his company's actions following the Jan. 9 spill into the Elk River by Freedom Industries. The water company has yet to change filters at their water treatment plant, although they say work begins on that project April 1 to address public concerns.

On Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management released Freedom Industries Tier II report filed in February 2013. The report details the components of a substance known as "Shurflott 944", which might have been stored in the tank that leaked on January 9.

FFA

"Future Farmers of America" was founded in 1928 with a mission to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They teach that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting-- it's a science, it's a business and it's an art. There are about 5,000 members of the Future Farmers of America organization in the state of West Virginia, and almost 600,000 across the country. One of the organization’s leaders today is a young man from Point Pleasant.

Meet Wesley Davis. He goes by Wes. He’s 19 and this guy has a story.


Analogue Kid / en.wikipedia

Students across West Virginia and surrounding states will get a hands-on experience with science and technology thanks to a new mobile exhibit.
 
Officials at the Clay Center in Charleston say the "Power Your Future" project received a two-year, $500,000 grant from EQT Foundation for the exhibit that is expected to hit the road later this year.

Researchers involved in a taxpayer-funded, independent water testing project in response to the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries began releasing findings earlier this week. The project, known as WV TAP, is currently attempting to determine the odor threshold for the chemical in question—crude MCHM. They are also investigating the safety factors applied by the CDC in determining how much chemical can be in water and still be called safe to drink.

Dr. Michael McGuire is conducting odor analysis panels to determine at what levels Crude MCHM can be smelled in the water. Results released Monday from an expert panel conducted by McGuire put that number at 0.15 parts per billion (ppb).

Researchers took time Tuesday to answer questions about the first round of studies that have been released.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The company that spilled chemicals into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply could have about $3 million left this summer before paying hundreds of creditors.
 
Freedom Industries Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Welch estimated in bankruptcy court Tuesday that $2.5 million to $3 million would remain in mid-June. He said the 51-employee company will cease business operations by the week's end.
 

West Virginia regulators have approved American Electric Power's plan to trim vegetation along distribution and transmission lines in the state.
 
The Public Service Commission had ordered electric companies in January 2013 to submit vegetation management plans. The order was in response to Superstorm Sandy and other severe weather in recent years that left thousands of customers without power.
 

Researchers involved in the independent, taxpayer-funded testing project known as WV TAP say results from a single expert panel show that Crude MCHM can be detected by an expert human nose when analytical methods used in testing the water indicate non-detect levels.

WOWK

The president of the company that spilled chemicals into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply wants to get paid for work during bankruptcy proceedings.
 
In court documents Saturday, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern requested an order to collect paychecks for work following the company's Jan. 17 bankruptcy filing.
 

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

Marshall County's slice of the state oil and gas severance tax is growing.

County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel tells The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register that the county's severance tax revenue increased from $71,161 in fiscal 2011 to $429,810 in fiscal 2013.

history.com

The History Channel featured a new show this year that focused on ginseng in Appalachia. According to Neilson ratings, the show, called Appalachian Outlaws, was one of the most popular on cable channels, averaging over 2.7 million viewers per each of its six episodes. There’s no official word if season two is in the works, and while some fans are hoping that there will be a second season, other people are hoping the show will just go away.


Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A tank cluster that leaked chemicals into 300,000 West Virginians' drinking water shows few signs that it's on the brink of destruction.
 
Freedom Industries hit a state deadline Saturday to start scrapping its chemical storage headquarters. So far, crews have carved a small patch out of one tank to remove chemical remnants.

This winter has brought a lot of snow, and snowy owls.

Some southern West Virginia residents almost always have unusable water.

We visit an old general store with a new purpose.

And learn more about the world of crayfish research.

Baker Hughes

West Virginian environmentalists are concerned about a bill to overturn tonnage caps for landfills accepting gas well drill cuttings from hydraulic fracturing operations.
 

The bill passed both legislative chambers in special session and now awaits the governor's approval.
 

Near the beginning of February, public interest groups Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Mountain State Justice filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court against DHHR and DEP for not adequately responding to public concerns after the January 9 leak by Freedom Industries. In response to the petition, the two agencies now point to legislation passed in response to the spill.

Pages