Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Mixture New to Spill Site

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Mixture New to Spill Site

Article excerpt

A small leak last week of a chemical mixture containing MCHM occurred just two weeks after an Alpha Natural Resources coal preparation plant began using the material, which was the main ingredient in the January 2014 Elk River spill. The state Department of Environmental Protection disclosed that detail Thursday afternoon, as DEP officials for the first time began answering questions about the incident. Earlier this week, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper complained about the lack of information being provided to the public and the media about the spill at Alpha's Mammoth Coal facility near London along the Kanawha River.

DEP acting public information officer Jake Glance said that the spill of between four and eight gallons of an MCHM-containing product called Flomin occurred at about 4 p.m. on Feb. 9. Alpha did not report the incident to DEP's spill hotline until early Saturday morning. A DEP inspector had advised the company to do so, after the inspector went to the facility to investigate a report from a motorist on U.S. 60 who noticed a strong smell of licorice coming from the operation.

"As far as we can tell, the site began using Flomin on Jan. 26, Glance said in an email.

Glance said that DEP officials are still investigating whether the facility had properly registered the chemical's above-ground storage tank under the state's new tank regulatory program set up following the 2014 incident at Freedom Industries, which contaminated the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents. Glance said the spill occurred during the transfer of Flomin from a bulk storage tank to smaller "day storage.

The incident at Mammoth Coal appears so far to have been small, and there has been no evidence that any of the chemical made it into the intake at the Cedar Grove drinking water system downstream from the coal processing facility. …

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