A chemical spill in West Virginia, which was first detected January 9, was worse than Freedom Industries originally let on, meaning cleanup efforts and people’s daily lives are going to be harder to address.
Freedom Industries owns the tank that leaked into West Virginia’s Elk River, spilling some 10,000 gallons of MCHM and PPH (4-methylcyclohexane methanol and a polyglycol ether). Initially, the chemical spill was said to be about 7,500 gallons, and only of MCHM, so news of additional chemicals in the spill, as well as more of them, has residents downstream concerned.
After the Freedom Industries chemical spill, residents have been told that they should not drink the water. Thankfully, donations of bottled water have been keeping residents well-hydrated. The tainted water, it is said, smells of sweet licorice and causes burning and itching when used to bathe. Interestingly, just a day after the drinking ban was lifted, Freedom Industries released the information regarding the second chemical contaminant in the spill, as well as the updated amount.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says residents are free to decide whether they will drink the tapwater or not, but it seems that the choice has been made for some of them. For example, limited amounts of water donations have made it difficult for everyone to get their needs addressed. Boone County, as an extreme example, hasn’t received any aid since the announcement, in spite of the water still smelling and feeling odd.
The Freedom Industries chemical spill also suffers from two additional problems. First, the company has declared bankruptcy, so any chance of recovering cleanup funds is practically nil. Second, the toxic properties of the chemicals themselves, about 9,700 gallons of MCHM and 300 gallons of PPH, isn’t very well-known, so it may be anyone’s guess how bad the water is to drink and if there will be any longterm effects to drinking and showering with the stuff.