West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

There’s a 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha River that runs from the small town of Diamond, near Belle in southern Kanawha County, all the way to Point Pleasant where it flows into the Ohio River. Since 1980, this section—known as Zone 1 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection—has been exempt from being classified as Category A. That exemption prevents that section of the Kanawha River from being used as a source for drinking water. 

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is tapping William "Fred" Durham as its director for the Division of Air Quality.

 

The appointment by Department Secretary Randy Huffman is effective July 1. Durham has served as acting director since Feb. 28, when the former director retired.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Slip-ups such as not reading emails and leaving chemical headquarters unattended keep producing problems for a company months after it sullied 300,000 people's drinking water.

Contractor troubles, miscalculations and missteps have kept state environmental violations rolling in after Freedom Industries' Charleston chemical tank leak in January. Other state and federal investigations are still ongoing.

State environmental regulators aren't rushing to slap penalties against Freedom.

Freedom Industries
AP

Regulators are pushing Freedom Industries to oust the contractor responsible for spills last week at the site of a January leak into the state's biggest drinking water supply.

State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said Tuesday he wants Civil & Environmental Consultants gone. The Pittsburgh contractor heads site cleanup.

Stormwater from a Freedom trench poured into the Elk River Thursday and Friday. Tests at the water treatment plant showed no chemical traces either day.

Huffman says he can urge, not force, Freedom to replace the contractor.

Freedom Industries
AP

The company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply in January will staff the site around the clock to prevent further spills during cleanup.

After spilling stormwater into the Elk River twice last week, Freedom Industries told the Department of Environmental Protection it would keep contractors at its Charleston site 24 hours a day.

Regulators said Thursday's spill sent a small amount of water into the river. A 50-minute overflow occurred Friday during a thunderstorm.

Freedom Industries
AP

  Industry groups are jittery that if state regulators require the wrong type of permit, companies could be subject to citizen lawsuits under a new environmental law regulating storage tanks.

State regulators disagree, and are convinced the law doesn't let citizens sue to enforce it.

The aboveground tank law calls for new inspections, registrations, inventories and other regulations. State lawmakers omitted a citizen-lawsuit option while crafting the law.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 11:12 p.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says Freedom Industries failed for a second straight day to prevent a stormwater collection trench overflow at the site along the Elk River. The incident follows a similar overflow of stormwater discovered Thursday.

The DEP says Friday’s discharge coincided with a heavy downpour of rain at around 5 p.m. and lasted nearly an hour before being brought under control through increased pumping.

“To have this happen twice in two days is outrageous and unacceptable," said DEP Secretary Randy Huffman in a news release issued Friday night.

Notices of Violation are being issued for Friday’s discharge as well. They will include a mandate that Freedom respond by noon Saturday with an outline of how the system will be redesigned to prevent future overflows.

"Freedom and its environmental consultant should have a system in place to handle heavy rainfall. If a better system is not implemented immediately, the DEP will take action to bring in a more responsible contractor to handle it,” said Huffman.

Two notices of violation were issued for Thursday’s incident. One for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet and another for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of an order to implement an approved sump management plan.

West Virginia American Water, which has a drinking water intake a mile and a half downstream, has been notified and will be collecting samples of raw water coming into the plant intake as well as treated water. Initial results are expected late Friday night.

Testing of raw and treated water samples after Thursday's discharge came back at non-detectable levels.

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 4:50 p.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued two Notices of Violation Friday to Freedom Industries following the overflow of a stormwater collection trench meant to keep rainwater that has come into contact with potentially contaminated soil from entering the Elk River.

According to a news release issued Friday afternoon, one of the violations is for allowing a discharge from an unpermitted outlet. The second is for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of a prior order to implement an approved sump management plan.

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 11:40 a.m.

  The DEP says in a news release that results from a second set of test samples on water analyzed following an overflow of stormwater at the Freedom Industries spill site into the Elk River have come back showing non-detectable levels of MCHM. These results follow earlier test results released by West Virginia American Water that also showed non-detectable levels of the material. The news release says the latest results, which came from Research Environmental & Industrial Consultants Inc., also known as REIC Labs, were for four samples of raw water and four samples of treated water from West Virginia American Company’s Charleston plant, the intake for which is about a mile and a half downstream of the spill site.  The DEP says the samples were delivered to the Beaver lab last night and results came this morning. The testing was unable to detect MCHM at 2 parts per billion. 

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 9:40 a.m.

In a news release, West Virginia American Water says overnight test results continue to show no detection of MCHM in water at the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant. A total of six samples of raw (river) and treated water taken at the plant at different times before 10 p.m. were tested for MCHM overnight. All results show no detection.  

Updated on Friday, June 13 at 1:17 a.m.

West Virginia American Water says in a news release that initial tests of raw (river) and treated water at their facility show no traces of MCHM.

The water company announced Thursday they had just finished changing the last of carbon filters at the treatment plant after beginning the process on April 1. The filters were changed after testing by an independent research group known as WV TAP indicated the filters were leaching MCHM into the water supply.

The water company says additional test results will come overnight. They say staff members are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with the Bureau for Public Health and the DEP.

Original Post from Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 10:51 p.m.

According to a news release, a DEP inspector noticed water overflowing from a containment trench at the site of the Freedom Industries cleanup. The news release says a pump in place to handle overflow to a storage tank stopped working, and the inspector restarted the pump, which stopped the overflow.

The DEP says it isn’t yet clear if the water entering the river contained any amount of crude MCHM — the material spilled at the site back on January 9. Samples of the water are being collected from the trench. Additional samples are also being collected downstream at West Virginia American Water Company’s intake, as well as treated water. The DEP says those samples will be tested at multiple labs, with results expected by Friday morning.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

  A West Virginia coal prep plant faces more than $72,200 in fines for spilling slurry into an eastern Kanawha County creek in February.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced fines Wednesday against Patriot Coal. The Feb. 11 spill occurred at Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant in Winifrede.

The company estimated 108,000 gallons of slurry spilled into Fields Creek, a Kanawha River tributary. The spill impacted about 6 miles of stream.

Freedom Industries
AP

Above-ground storage tanks can now be registered online to comply with a West Virginia law inspired by a January chemical spill.

Owners have to register their tanks on the state Department of Environmental Protection's online registration site by Oct. 1. This will help DEP complete a required inventory of tanks in the state.

DEP estimates tens of thousands of tanks will be affected by the law. Some exemptions exist based on capacity, use and overlapping regulation, among other reasons.

newriverwv.com

A Department of Environmental Protection inspector is searching for an oily substance reported on the New River.

Update at 3:51 p.m. ET June 6, 2014 DEP determines the substance was algae

"The brown substance spotted on both the New and Kanawha rivers (it made its way downstream), we took samples and looked at them under a microscope and determined it was algae," Spokesperson Kelley Gillenwater said. "Algae blooms are common this time of year."

Update at 5:27 p.m. ET. Substance appears to be "naturally occurring substance"

From Kelley Gillenwater, with the WV DEP

"The DEP inspector looking into this has located the substance and as a precaution will continue traveling up and down the river to look for any potential spill sources. He's also been giving out his business card to everyone he's spoken to and has asked residents to contact him if they see more of this material. However, at this time, based on his observations and his conversations with residents and boaters, there is nothing to indicate this is anything other than a naturally occurring substance. The agency will continue to investigate, though, just in case it's something else."

Fracking, Fluid
Baker Hughes

West Virginia regulators want to know how drilling sludge rejected by a landfill in Pennsylvania wound up in a landfill in Bridgeport.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says the agency ordered the Meadowfill Landfill to stop accepting the sludge until the agency determines why the Arden Landfill in Chartiers, Pennsylvania, rejected it.
 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The state Department of Environmental Protection has released a website that will soon house new regulations for above ground storage tanks. For now, the site contains all of the public comments the agency has received while they prepare to write those rules. As heroin use rises in the state, U.S. Prosecuting Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia William Ihlenfeld is looking for ways to treat the problem and a new video project is focused on supporting artisans in the Eastern Panhandle.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

  West Virginia regulators are seeking daily fines of $25,000 against a Morgantown industrial park developer for alleged environmental violations.

The Department of Environmental Protection filed a complaint Thursday in Monongalia County Circuit Court against LPG Land & Development Corp.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

  West Virginia environmental regulators have proposed more than $21,000 in fines for a Kanawha County plant that spilled coal slurry into a creek.

The fines are for three citations issued after 108,000 gallons of slurry spilled into Fields Creek from Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle preparation plant on Feb. 11.

As Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail reports, MCHM--the same chemical involved in a January spill that tainted the water supply of some 300,000 West Virginians--has been found in discharges from three coal prep plants in the state: Delbarton Mining in Mingo County, Wolfrun Mining in Barbour County, and Marfork Coal near the border of Boone and Raleigh counties.

Department of Environmental Protection

West Virginia officials have issued a permit for a surface mining operation located near Kanawha State Forest.

The state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Mining and Reclamation issued the permit Thursday to Keystone Industries.

The permit is for a surface mining operation on a nearly 414-acre tract of land.

Officials say the permit that was originally submitted in 2009 has been subject to many changes aimed at minimizing any potential adverse impact to the forest.

Williams Energy

Williams Energy won't be cited by state environmental regulators for a natural gas pipeline explosion in Marshall County.

The April 5 explosion and fire scorched trees over a 2-acre area near Moundsville. Several homes were evacuated as a precaution.

Antero Resources

State regulators have ordered Antero Resources to suspend operations at two drilling pads where water tanks ruptured recently.

Two water tanks ruptured at the company's Marsden Pad in Doddridge County on April 11. On April 15, two tanks ruptured at Antero's Varner-West Pad in Harrison County.

Jessica Lilly

The Natural Resource Defense Council is disappointed with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to renew a permit for an underground injection well in Fayette County.

The permit allows Danny Webb Construction to accept fluids from oil and gas exploration, development drilling, and production fluids for another five years.

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