Freedom tank demolition expected to commence before month’s end

Updated 3 years ago Edited from a Press Release
Demolition of the steel tanks at the Freedom Industries
tank farm, the source of the Jan. 9 crude MCHM spill that
contaminated the drinking water supply for approximately
300,000 West Virginians, is expected to begin before
month’s end.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had ordered two weeks after the spill
that the tanks be dismantled. Because Freedom has filed for
bankruptcy, all of the company’s financial transactions
have to be approved by a bankruptcy judge. That approval
was granted on Friday. The attorneys and financial advisors
for Freedom had hoped the tank dismantling could begin this
week, but are now anticipating it will take a couple of
weeks to obtain all the necessary permit requirements.
Contractor Independence Excavating is also working to
finalize plans such as where the scrap material will be

Once started, the work, which will be monitored by the West
Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to ensure
all protocols are followed, is expected to last two to four
weeks. It will involve all 13 of the remaining tanks at the
Etowah River Terminal site except for three being used to
store stormwater runoff – water from rain or shallow ground
pools that comes into contact with potentially contaminated
soil. Six fiberglass tanks have already been torn down.

The tank dismantling could potentially stir up the black
licorice odor associated with MCHM. Workers at the site
will take any necessary precautions to protect their
health. Also, safeguards remain in place to keep any
contaminated soil or runoff from entering the Elk River.
These safeguards include a lined trenching system to keep
any materials from escaping the containment area.  

Once the tanks have been dismantled, analysis will be
conducted to determine the severity of the pollution impact
to soil and groundwater, and remediation work can then get
under way. Freedom submitted a site remediation plan in
April but the specifics of the plan could change based on
information obtained as part of the site characterization.
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