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Erin Savage, water quality specialist at Appalachian Voices, collects water samples from the Elk River on Jan. 10.
Erin Savage, water quality specialist at
Appalachian Voices, collects water samples
 from the Elk River on Jan. 10.
West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection said late Monday that Freedom Industries spilled about 10,000 gallons of a coal-cleaning chemical mixture into the state's drinking water Jan. 9. Previously, that figure had been estimated at 7,500 gallons. The company initially notified the state that the spill was of Crude MCHM. But it subsequently said a second chemical, PPH, had also been released:
"We are not making any judgment about [the estimate's] accuracy," WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman said in a prepared statement. "We felt it was important to provide to the public what the company has provided the WVDEP in writing. We are still reviewing the calculation and this is something that will be researched further during the course of this investigation.

"This is the first calculation that has been provided concerning the amount of materials that spilled on Jan. 9," Huffman said. "This new calculation does not change any of our protocols in dealing with this spill, nor does it affect the ongoing remediation efforts. Our actions have never been dependent on what Freedom has reported to us. From the start, we have acted aggressively to contain the spill and remediate the site."

Before you read below the fold for more updates on the West Virginia chemical spill, please sign this petition to hold Freedom Industries accountable.
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West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants Freedom Industries to start dismantling all 17 storage tanks at its facility on the Elk River by March 15.

Meanwhile, West Virginia's two senators, Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, together with Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, Tuesday introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act designed to put all the tools providing oversight of chemicals in one place.

Among other things, the bill establishes state oversight programs of chemical facilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act, sets minimum federal standards for chemical facilities subject to state control including leak detection and emergency response, requires inspections every three years of facilities where spills could harm drinking water sources and five years for all others, and allows states to recoup losses caused by emergency responses to spills.

Senator Boxer said:

"It is critical that children and families across the nation have access to clean, safe drinking water, and our legislation makes it clear that if a chemical poses a risk to a water supply, it will be subject to safe practices so we won't see this anxiety unleashed again.”

“It’s clear more could have been done more to protect the water supply for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians,” Senator Rockefeller said. “This bill takes a first step toward bringing accountability to companies in the state while protecting West Virginia families and our state’s economy.”

A one-page fact sheet of the proposed law can be found here.
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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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