WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr


What's Up River From The WVAWC Treatment Plant?

Reported: Jan. 20, 2014 8:07 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 20, 2014 10:36 PM EST
EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

News Image

ON THE ELK RIVER (Kennie Bass) - West Virginia American Water Company's Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant wasn't prepared to deal with the leak of Hex-Meth from the Freedom Industries Chemical site which sits just upriver along the Elk.

Approximately 7500 gallons of the chemical leaked into the waterway forcing a do-not-use order leaving 300,000 people high and dry, and causing the president to declare a federal disaster.

Eyewitness News traveled up the Elk to see if there are any other potential problems lurking along the riverbank.

Although people knew there were chemicals being stored up river from the West Virginia-American Water Company treatment plant, no one really paid much attention to that fact. And here's something else that's troubling. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection really doesn't know what else might be upstream from that plant and could potentially get into the water supply.

In Clendenin, MarkWest Extraction operates its Cobb facility. Five pressurized storage tanks contain mostly propane. Two tanks store a water/oil mixture and another contains used oil. A company spokesman said all the tanks have secondary containment and are inspected daily by plant personnel.

A few miles up river at Queen Shoals, Dominion's Cornwell Station has above ground storage tanks containing motor, used and lube oil, produced and pipeline fluids, ethanol and ethylene glycol. A spokesman said all of the tanks have secondary containment and are inspected monthly and quarterly according to EPA requirements and are visually checked daily for leaks.

Finally, in Sutton, Appalachian Timber Services has been operating since 1972. The company has three 20,000 gallon tanks storing creosote for use in treating railroad ties, switch ties and bridges. A company vice president says each is only filled to a maximum of 17,000 gallons and has secondary containment.

"There's been a class action suit filed here in Braxton County over the creosote smell and the dangers," Edith Tichner of Sutton said. "Plus, there's a trust account set up for people who might have health issues down the road."

While West Virginia-American Water failed to deal with the Hex-Meth released into the water system by Freedom Industries, the company's president said his system can handle many other potential threats.

"We're always prepared," Jeff McIntyre, president of WVAWC, said. "We have a system that's advanced, activated carbon. It can treat diesel spills. It can treat fuel spills. Obviously, it got overwhelmed by this product. I mean, the levels never really got exceptionally high in the water. It's not like we saw ten parts per million, ten times the health limit of that, that's not what we saw. But what we saw was a very odorous compound that got into the treatment system."

Right now, the operations along the Elk are only required to have storm water drainage permits and are not inspected by the Department of Environmental Protection. That will change if the governor's proposal for tighter oversight is approved by the legislature.

"An annual certification process would be ideal where every year these tanks would be looked at and pressure tested and run through a battery of tests and processes so that they could be certified as being safe," Randy Huffman, director of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, said. "That probably is the most important thing that we could accomplish."

The man who handles the DEP's on-site response to disasters says much has been learned from the Freedom Industries spill which could aid future efforts should the need arise.

It is different when the meter starts running for real, isn't it?

"It's very different," Mike Dorsey, with the DEP, said. "Time is of the essence, we understand that. Even in training you understand that. But it becomes very clear just how critical it is to make the right moves early on. And early on, quite frankly, you're not sure you're making the right moves. You're doing what you think needs to be done and as time passes does it only become clear that that is the right move or maybe you should have done something a little differently."

Huffman said the reality of how our water system's vulnerability should serve as a wake-up call to everyone charged with protecting it.

Has this given you a different perspective on water?

"I think it has," Huffman said. "Yeah. When you see what the lack of water can do not just to an economy but to a society itself. And I think that maybe we take it for granted when we turn on a faucet and water comes out. This caused me to be more sensitive to that, to really have a better understanding and appreciation for that and how it needs to be protected."

The DEP is compiling of list of storage tanks and sites statewide, but that project is not yet finished.



MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
Two Suspects In Custody After Car Rams Charleston Home, Catches Fire
News
Apr. 15, 2014 10:56 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- Two people are ...
Full News Story

Charleston Coping With Bitter Cold
News
Apr. 15, 2014 9:18 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Temperatures were sent ...
Full News Story and Video

Man Indicted On Charges He Threatened To Kill U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin
News
Apr. 15, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say a ...
Full News Story


News Putnam County Plans To File Lawsuit Against Waste Management
Apr. 15, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
News Search For Vehicle In River Near Point Pleasant Called Off Due To Wind, Water Conditions
Apr. 15, 2014 5:06 PM EDT
News Williamson Mayor Charged In Federal Information
Apr. 15, 2014 4:55 PM EDT
News State Police Say Logan County Man Faces Charges After Stolen Items Found At His Home
Apr. 15, 2014 3:22 PM EDT
News Body Of Man Discovered In Athens County Creek Identified
Apr. 15, 2014 3:08 PM EDT
News Former U.S. Rep. Mick Staton Dies
Apr. 15, 2014 3:23 PM EDT
News Road Reopens In Greenup County After Explosives Removed
Apr. 15, 2014 1:12 PM EDT
News Last Day to File Taxes and Sign Up for Obamacare Is Today
Apr. 15, 2014 5:24 PM EDT
News Obama To Observe Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary With Moment Of Silence
Apr. 15, 2014 12:55 PM EDT
News Freeze Warning In Effect Overnight With Temperatures To Plummet
Apr. 15, 2014 12:19 PM EDT
News Judge Zakaib To Hear City Effort To Ban Prosecutor Mark Plants From Domestic Violence Cases
Apr. 15, 2014 11:29 AM EDT
News Vandalism Incident At Capitol Center Under Investigation
Apr. 15, 2014 11:26 AM EDT
News Jacobs-Jones Named Senior Vice President For Operations At Marshall University
Apr. 15, 2014 5:05 PM EDT
News Putnam Commissioners Plan Legal Action Seeking To Force Removal Of MCHM From Landfill
Apr. 15, 2014 10:16 AM EDT
News Human Skeletal Remains Found In Wyoming County On Property Of Murder Suspect In Unrelated Case
Apr. 15, 2014 9:12 AM EDT
News Juvenile To Be Charged In Connection With Elkview Elementary Center Bomb Threat
Apr. 15, 2014 12:39 PM EDT
News Human Remains Identified As Missing Greenup County Man
Apr. 15, 2014 8:50 AM EDT
News Brush Fires Continue To Be A Concern
Apr. 14, 2014 10:18 PM EDT
News Civl Lawsuit Filed By Victim Of Mingo County Corruption
Apr. 14, 2014 7:18 PM EDT
News Plants Says He Won't Resign After ODC Recommends His Immediate Suspension
Apr. 14, 2014 6:38 PM EDT
News Deputies Investigating Reported Home Invasion In Sissonville Area
Apr. 14, 2014 6:03 PM EDT
News People In Putnam County Could Be Getting Public Water Access
Apr. 14, 2014 6:00 PM EDT
News WV American Says Water Samples Taken From First Two Filters In Carbon Change-Out Project Show No Detection Of MCHM
Apr. 14, 2014 4:44 PM EDT
News White Kia Dodge In South Charleston Has New Owner
Apr. 14, 2014 4:38 PM EDT
News Huntington Shooting Victim Dies, Suspect Charged With Murder
Apr. 14, 2014 4:54 PM EDT
News Efforts In Congress To Reform Taxes Hitting Roadblocks
Apr. 14, 2014 4:21 PM EDT
News Greenup County Sheriff's Department Warns Of Scam Involving Impersonation Of A Deputy
Apr. 14, 2014 4:27 PM EDT
News Man Arrested After Truck Wrecks Into Barboursville Business
Apr. 14, 2014 6:45 PM EDT
News GOP targets Kanawha, Cabell Counties To Sway Women Voters
Apr. 14, 2014 3:24 PM EDT
News Pete Sampras Named Tennis Pro Emeritus At The Greenbrier
Apr. 14, 2014 2:10 PM EDT


Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
W.Va. average per-gallon gas price up 1 cent

Gas prices in West Virginia went up a penny a gallon since last week.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Lawmakers toughen accountability for districts

A bill aimed at strengthening accountability standards for Kentucky's school districts has won final approval from state lawmakers.
Full Story

Ohio News
4 Ohio firefighters suffer minor injuries

Four Columbus firefighters have suffered minor injuries after a ladder fell on them during a fire at a business in downtown Columbus.
Full Story

PREVIOUS NEWS: NOV | CURRENT







Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site







Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.