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FEMA approves one spill request, denies another

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a funding request for response to the Freedom Industries chemical leak but declined to consider the event a “major disaster.”

The administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released the two FEMA rulings late Thursday.

FEMA originally granted a request for federal aid Jan. 10, one day after state officials discovered thousands of gallons of chemicals had contaminated 300,000 West Virginians’ water supply.

The declaration provided for direct federal aid, but didn’t give an avenue for recovery of funds spent by local governments on chemical leak relief, said Jimmy Gianato, state director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

FEMA originally denied an additional request that would allow entities to recoup some funds, saying the spill “was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant grant assistance under this emergency declaration.”

The state appealed that decision and FEMA approved the appeal Thursday…

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