By Amanda Gillooly
It was good news for West Virginia residents grappling with the recent chemical spill in West Virginia: Freedom, the company responsible for the incident, was forced to transfer “chemical spill-related” materials out of the state.
But that could be bad news for Pennsylvania residents, because those materials have been moved into a coal-processing plant in the Keystone state.
Here’s a press release, issued Monday, by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection:
Freedom Industries has begun the process of transferring from its Poca Blending facility in Nitro MCHM and other chemical spill-related materials that are being stored at the facility and on adjacent property being leased by Freedom.
The company informed the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Monday night that it would begin today shipping materials from the Nitro site. Freedom was scheduled this morning to transfer to a coal facility in Pennsylvania approximately 3,500 gallons of MCHM from an inventory that was already being stored at Poca Blending prior to the Jan. 9 chemical leak at Freedom’s Elk River facility.
Freedom said it will continue MCHM shipments from Poca Blending to customers over the next several days and weeks. Those shipments will include both MCHM transferred to Poca Blending from the Elk River spill site and MCHM already being stored at Nitro. The WVDEP will have inspectors on site as Freedom unloads tanks and transfers the materials.
During the moving of materials, there is a potential for area residents to detect odors. The WVDEP will closely monitor the activity to ensure that it is done safely and with as minimal of an odor impact as possible.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister confirmed Thursday that the materials were transferred on Monday to the Dutch Run Coal Preparation Plant in Armstrong County.
Poister said there while inspectors from the department did not supervise the transfer, which he said was “not an unusual move.” He also said that those sorts of chemicals have long been handled at the Pennsylvania facility.
He added that while it is not feasible for the department to track all chemicals being used and stored in the state, it does monitor the storage of those chemicals using what he referred to as a “robust” regulation of holding tanks.
A phone message left for the public information officer at the WVDEP was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.