The company responsible for the West Virginia chemical spill that poisoned drinking water for more than 300,000 residents last Thursday was slapped with a slew of violations by state environmental inspectors Monday - made public Wednesday - for infractions at another allegedly unsafe storage site.
The company, Freedom Industries, "failed to store drums containing materials that have the potential to contaminate groundwater so that spills and leaks are contained," according to violation notices released by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and first reported by The Charleston Daily Mail.
Investigators also found that above ground storage tanks were not properly surrounded with secondary protections, such as walls or trenches, and that the facility lacked spill kits to contain any errant chemicals, spill logs to record the accidents and no record of site inspections.
How nice that the state environmental inspectors finally paid attention. Too bad it was too late.
I read that the facility where the leak occurred was not required to have regular inspections since it was designated a "storage" facility. Safe to say now that this was probably not a good idea.
The company itself was responsible for allowing conditions of its tanks to deteriorate to the degree that a leak of a toxic chemical was allowed to happen--and to pour into the Elk River, upstream from a water purification facility.
But I suspect that when this is fully scrutinized that the state of WV has some culpability here too. Even if they've managed to cover their fannies bureaucratically, morally those who are answerable to the people of WV regarding the safety of their water supply share some blame here.
But coal runs West Virginia--and this plant held chemicals used in coal processing. Whenever there is a mine disaster, we usually discover that regulations have been gutted or simply not enforced. I wonder if that is what happened here.
We need regulations. A surprising number of companies are not good at running a clean, tight ship. And when they hit the rocks, the citizens around them suffer.
We also need enforcement of regulations. But too many people have bought into the notion that regulations are bad, that they kill business. Certainly, a lot of West Virginians, desperate for jobs, have been willing to believe so. This experience may change some minds.
Edited by Spectacles, 16 January 2014 - 02:51 PM.