Skip to main content

After Freedom Industries so kindly donated 10,000 gallons of Crude MCHM and PPH into the Elk River last month, tainting the water supply for more than 300,000 West Virginians, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made it perfectly clear that the coal industry had nothing to do with the chemical spill, despite the fact that Crude MCHM is used to facilitate the efficient cleaning of coal. At a press conference just a few days after the spill occurred, Tomblin stressed the idea that coal was not to blame, saying with regards to Freedom Industries, "This was not a coal company, this was a chemical supplier, where the leak occurred,"  adding that as far as he knew, "there was no coal company within miles.” The fact that the Crude MCHM manufactured by Eastman Chemical and stored in Freedom Industries substandard holding tanks was designed specifically to make the coal cleaning process more effective notwithstanding (1), one could make a very weak argument that the Coal Industry was not involved in any of the malfeasance that led to the poisoning of the water supply in nine different counties last month.

Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp......Coal slurry up Winaferd Hollow.

A picture taken this morning of Fields Creek, hours after more than 100,00 gallons of Coal Slurry was leaked from a plant owned by Patriot Coal

At least you could have made that argument before 7:42 this morning, when the Patriot Coal-owned Kanwha Eagle Prep Plant announced that a leak had been discovered in one of their slurry lines, and that a significant amount of coal slurry--the toxic half solid/half liquid waste byproduct of the coal preparation process--had spilled into Fields Creek, just outside of the town of Winifrede, WV in Eastern Kanawha County. The spill had taken place at some point in the early hours of the morning and was discovered by the plant's staff at 5:30am, at which point they turned off the pump that was moving the the slurry from the plant itself to the impoundment where it is stored. Initially, plant employees and officials didn't know exactly how much slurry had leaked into the creek, but any hopes that the damage was minimal were dashed by mid-afternoon, when officials with the state's Department of Environmental Protection had determined that the amount of slurry that had leaked from the plant was in excess of 100,000 gallons. Almost immediately after word of the spill had spread to the media and general public, local news stations were airing live video of Fields Creek, which had turned into a river of opaque gray sludge.

Just as quickly, state and private sector officials began doing damage control, with Laura Jordan, a spokeswoman for West Virginia American Water said that they had determined, with the assistance of the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, that they "did not anticipate any impact" on their Elk River plant. Jimmy Gianato, the head of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management was less politic, saying that he, [doesn't] think there's really anything to it," and that the whole situation, "turned out to be much of nothing."

A screen capture from a report filed by Charleston's ABC affiliate. By the time they reached Fields Creek, the water was no longer black, but gray.

So, let me get this straight: more than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry leak out of a processing plant in the dead of night, proceeding to turn a creek that feeds into the Kanawha River into a burbling stream of groundwater seeping black muck, just one month after the same region's water supply was infused with 10,000 gallons of a chemical, MCHM, which is but one of the myriad toxic substances making up industrial mess that has caused the air in Kanawha County to once again reek of fetid licorice and you, the man charged with the task of coordinating the statewide response to emergencies such as this, say that this turned out not to be a big deal?

Welcome to West Virginia, where this behavior is totally normal.


(1) 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is only one of six chemicals that makes up the composition of Crude MCHM, although it does constitute the bulk of the mixture. According to Eastman Chemical's Safety Data Sheet, published in 2011, the other 5 chemicals involved in the creation of Crude MCHM (along with water) are 4-(methoxymethyl)cyclohexanemethanol, methyl 4-methylcyclohexanecarboxylate, dimethyl 1,4-cyclohexanedicarboxylate, methanol and 1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol. The original patent that was filed for the chemical, titled "Process for coal flotation using 4-methyl cyclohexane methanol frothers," lists 4 different compositions for MCHM which include all of the chemicals except 4-(methoxymethyl)cyclohexanemethanol, instead using monoether (& monoester) of 4-methyl cyclohexane methanol. To be honest, most of this is absolute Greek to me, but perhaps someone else with a background in chemistry can make more sense of it.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Patriot Coal and Freedom Industries. You know if (6+ / 0-)

    we didn't have so much trouble getting decent environmental laws and regulations passed and enforced, I would suggest that there really ought to be a law forbidding the use of words like Freedom and Patriot in the names of corporations who rape the earth.

  •  "Eastman" Chemical (0+ / 0-)

    as in Kodak?

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 04:30:29 PM PST

  •  Will West Virginia become the first (5+ / 0-)

    uninhabitable wasteland state?  

    And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 KJV

    by looking and listening on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 04:31:00 PM PST

  •  "Clean" coal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, ActivistGuy

    An example of why coal will never be clean

  •  Well, I'm surprised (3+ / 0-)

    That big companies can be this stupid. I've toured many coal ash ponds. It's not hard to keep from utterly destroying the countryside for miles from ash spills.

    Lord, please make me judge and jury for one day for these guys. Or better yet, make Ray Pensador a special prosecutor.

    And if You don't like the names of the "Patriot" and "Freedom" coal  companies, you probably won't like my upcoming diary about the "Liberty" coal operations that intends to strip mine 50 square miles of cherry Mississippi farmlands.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:07:44 PM PST

  •  i have an idea (0+ / 0-)

    Dump a pile of this shit in the water supply in the Hamptons and see how fast they do something.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:55:02 PM PST

  •  There is a new Facebook Group.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Virally Suppressed

    here in WV called Friends of Water.  They made a logo with the typefonts of Friends of Coal, but in blue.  They have 13,000 likes and are reporting on this.  The comments indicate the folks are getting sick of this mess.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 03:54:32 AM PST

  •  Less Regulation is the Republicans motto. (0+ / 0-)

    It's time for Republicans in West VA to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and denounce the entire Republican scam, and stand up and fight for their land.  

    Democrats are the ones begging for strict oversight to protect these same people, yet, West Virginia refuses to support Democrats, or any changes to regulations that could have prevented these spills from happening in the first place.

    Of course some will argue that these spills could not have been prevented.  I would argue if these places were inspected, it's possible damage could have been discovered, and catastrophe discovered.  

    So West Va, Republicans.  What are you going to do?
    Watch your land get raped, and continue to re elect those same rapists ?  Or are you going to admit you have been playing on the wrong team?  Grow a set all ready.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:30:31 AM PST

    •  Democrats have ruled WV for 80 years (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats are begging for strict oversight?? They have run this state for 80 years and NEVER protected it or its people. They have never really taxed coal nearly enough to pay for the damage coal companies have done, nor regulated those companies to protect the state or the people. Mountain top removal mining has destroyed miles of precious streams and polluted the state in gross ways. The Democrats have always defended those companies. The chemicals have destroyed our major rivers while totally Democrat government control has been the rule. The Kanawha and the Ohio rivers could be gigantic fresh water fisheries if it were not for the Democrat government allowing them to be sewers for the chemical and coal companies. The Democrats would let companies crap in our street for a dozen jobs created. Earto44 if you are a West Virginian you should already know that. It is really the apathetic public in this state that is at fault. The public has allowed this disgrace to take place and re-elected the same corrupt Democrats until they die of old age.

  •  West Virginia Democrats support pollution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Democrats have ruled West Virginia for 80 years. They have allowed the rivers to be polluted by both large chemical companies and coal companies. Seven rivers start in West Virginia, yet you cannot safely eat the fish from the Ohio, which belongs to West Virginia, or the Kanawha River. Both rivers are filled with PCBs, mercury, and dozens of other deadly chemicals. The WV DEP not too long ago authorized an increase in the release of creosote into the Ohio in the northern panhandle. They fine coal companies a few hundred dollars for millions in damages. What price can you put on pristine clear water or clean air? The Democrat state government is allowing gas drilling companies to inject millions of gallons of contaminated fracking fluids into the earth to eventually pollute our ground water. Chemicals are stored by chemical companies on the river's edge up and down the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, yet millions of people get their drinking water from the Ohio. What goes into the Kanawha ends up in the Ohio. With all the rivers in West Virginia, the Democrats have allowed an investment group to raise the drinking water price to the second highest in the USA, when the state is 49th in income. Democrats like to claim they are for the working people of America, but they have been in control of this state for 80 years and our income level shows they ONLY support industry.

  •   Jimmy Gianato is corrupt and inept (0+ / 0-)

    Jimmy Gianato is the same inept buffoon that paid $24,000,000 tax dollars for routers for the state when a maximum of 3 1/2 million would have done the job more than adequately. I am a network engineer and know, for example, that only six router of the type Gianato bought runs the entire state network at Citinet. Gianato also blew millions on a no bid tower contract, but still Governor Tomblin has not fired him or had him investigated. That is because he is a friend and crony of Manchin and a Democrat. He is an embarrassment to this state and has embarrassed us nationally in Information Technology associations with his ignorance. Any body that thinks no money changed hands for the crooked router deal is lacking intelligence. The public in West Virginia has been apathetic about this crook being in the position that is responsible for the safety of the citizens of this state.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site