Moral Low Ground


Freedom Industries Failed to Disclose Second Chemical, PPH, in West Virginia Chemical Spill

Downtown Charleston and the Elk River (Wikipedia)

Downtown Charleston and the Elk River (Wikipedia)

West Virginia officials say a second, previously undisclosed, chemical was part of the disastrous spill that polluted the state’s water supply earlier this month.

Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the January 9 chemical spill that left more than 300,000 West Virginians without tap water for days, failed to disclose a second chemical in the massive leak. It had previously said that only one chemical, MCHM, used in coal extraction, was involved. Now it has emerged that the toxic chemical polyglycol ethers (PPH) was also present in the storage tank that leaked into the Elk River just upstream from the state’s capital and largest city, Charleston.

Reuters reports Freedom Industries President Gary Southern has now disclosed in a letter that the chemical mix in the tank consisted of 88.5 percent pure MCHM and 7.3 percent PPH.

Although acknowledging that PPH is less toxic than MCHM, state officials slammed Freedom Industries for failing to report the second spill.

“Having to order them to provide such obvious information is indicative of the continued decline of their credibility,” Randy Huffman, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environment Protection, told the Associated Press.

The company also failed to list PPH on its hazardous chemicals inventory for its Charleston plant last year, possibly because the chemical is not regulated as a hazardous material.

Freedom Industries responded to the revelation of a second chemical leak by insisting only MCHM and PPH spilled into the Elk River.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the latest revelation “very disappointing.”

“Once again, it’s another one of those chemicals that very few people know anything about,” he said.

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