More chemical data released

Tom Hindman
Freedom Industries hit a deadline Saturday to start scrapping its chemical storage headquarters, though it still appears intact. Local residents say they will be glad to see the 'tank farm' gone.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New information released by the state Wednesday raises more questions about what exactly contaminated the tap water of 300,000 West Virginia residents.The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management released the 2013 Tier II report filed by Freedom Industries for Etowah River Terminal, the site along the Elk River where the state discovered chemicals leaking Jan. 9.The report must be filed by any facility that stores at least 10,000 pounds of materials defined as "hazardous" under the federal Community Right to Know act.Facilities list the types and amounts of chemicals stored on-site in these reports.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed the requirements for what needs to be included in the reports for 2013, said T.D. Lively, a spokesman for the division.Freedom filed the report Feb. 28, the day before the filing deadline.  Freedom's 2013 report includes much more information about what might have been in Tank 396, the container from which at least 10,000 gallons of chemicals leaked through two small holes.The report lists only two substances that might have been stored in Tank 396 during 2013: MCHM or "Shurflot 944."Shurflott 944 is a trade name for a material, said Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP's Division of Water and Waste Management. He said he didn't know much else about it.  The latest Tier II report lists the chemical components - something not included in reports for the site from 2007 to 2012 - of Shurflot 944.According to the report, the mixture includes 65 percent of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, the main component of MCHM. The Shurflott 944 also contains another 16 percent combined of two other materials also listed as components of MCHM, according to the report. However, the report says Shurflott contains 9 percent DiPPH and 7 percent PPH. It's the only material listed in the report for the site that contains PPH or DiPPH.Within hours of discovering the spill the state reported MCHM, a chemical with a licorice odor, had leaked into the Elk River. However, Freedom told the state on Jan. 21 the spill also contained an additional material.That material has been called both PPH and "PPH, stripped."Freedom President Gary Southern told the DEP in Jan. 22 letter the tank contained about 88.5 percent crude MCHM, 7.3 percent PPH and 4.2 percent water.
"Our records and internal investigation indicate that there were no other materials in Tank No. 396 at the time of release," Southern said in the letter.Southern referred to a Material Safety Data Sheet provided to the state for PPH. The only sheet made available is for a product called "PPH, Stripped." The sheet doesn't list the components of the chemical, deeming it proprietary information.
Southern declined comment Wednesday when contacted by the Daily Mail.Freedom told the DEP the compound contains DiPPH Glycol Ether and PPH Glycol ether, according to the Charleston Gazette.The report lists the specific names and percentages of components that make up MCHM as well. Freedom also identifies MCHM as a "mix" in the latest report; the previous six years Freedom listed it as a "pure" material.The Material Safety Data Sheet for MCHM includes a possible range of the amount of components that make up the chemical, but doesn't include any specific percentages. The percentages of components listed in the Tier II report fall in those ranges.
The latest Tier II report says Shurflott 944 was on site 180 days during 2013. When it was on site, there was an average of as much as 499,999 pounds. MCHM was on site every day, at an average of as much as nearly 1 million pounds, according to the report.As is the case with MCHM, the report doesn't specify if Shurflott 944 was specifically in tank 395, 396 or 397, or if it was in a combination of those tanks. It also doesn't specifically state whether MCHM and Shurflott 944 could have been in the same tank at the same time.Mandirola and a DEP spokesman said they hadn't seen the report.A group of independent scientists hired by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to study aspects of the spill released a report Monday concerning toxicity of chemicals believed to be involved in the leak."Today, the exact chemical composition of the spilled liquid and what reached the drinking water taps of affected residents remains somewhat undefined," the West Virginia Testing Assessment Program study states.The study includes some general information on PPH and DiPPH, but acknowledges the exact composition of the mixture as it pertains to those chemicals "will likely need to come from Freedom Industries."Professor Andrew Whelton, an environmental engineer and one of the WVTAP coordinators, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to how the new information included in the Tier II report might affect their project.A copy of the report can be viewed by clicking the link at the top of this story.The reports are expected to be a key component of emergency preparedness guidelines included in legislation crafted in the wake of the release.In an interview Wednesday morning, state homeland security and emergency management Director Jimmy Gianato said the state is moving toward requiring facilities to file these reports in an electronic form. Some of the reports are filed electronically but it's not mandatory, he said.Electronic filing would make the sharing of information included in the reports with public agencies or the public easier, Gianato said.The division is also looking at buying an electronic records system for the reports, he said.Writer Andrea Lannom contributed to this report.Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at 
Show All Comments Hide All Comments

User Comments

More News