Opinion

Who should pay for the chemical leak?

An editorial from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Should the people of the Kanawha Valley settle for a second-rate cleanup of the site where a coal-washing chemical was spilled into the water supply because Freedom Industries is too poor to do a first-rate job? That appears to be the company’s strategy.

Sniffing the wind, Freedom ran out and filed for bankruptcy shortly after the Jan. 9 leak of crude MCHM on the Elk River. The chemical flowed into the area’s water intake, closing schools and businesses and sending people to hospitals with eye and skin problems. Area residents carried water for weeks.

Lawyers for the bankrupt company have been poormouthing ever since. Last month, the state Department of Environmental Protection proposed an agreement with Freedom, a consent order, in which DEP would lift previous orders requiring Freedom to remove “all” contaminated soil and groundwater from the Etowah Terminal site. Instead, Freedom could apply to the DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program. If accepted, the company could reduce the amount of material that has to be removed based on the risk it poses, which would probably reduce the cost of the cleanup, too.

Why should anyone believe this poverty act…

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