The company responsible for the West Virginia chemical spill that poisoned drinking water for more than 300,000 residents last Thursday was slapped with a slew of violations by state environmental inspectors Monday - made public Wednesday - for infractions at another allegedly unsafe storage site.
The company, Freedom Industries, "failed to store drums containing materials that have the potential to contaminate groundwater so that spills and leaks are contained," according to violation notices released by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and first reported by The Charleston Daily Mail.
Investigators also found that above ground storage tanks were not properly surrounded with secondary protections, such as walls or trenches, and that the facility lacked spill kits to contain any errant chemicals, spill logs to record the accidents and no record of site inspections.
"The plan indicates that the building itself acts as secondary containment, but holes exist at floor level in the building's walls," the notices said.
The findings resulted in five violation notoices. Freedom Industries has 20 days to respond and could ultimately face fines or other civil penalties.
Investigators visited the site in Nitro, W.Va., on Monday, after Freedom industries moved tanks of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or MCHM, from the site of the spill in Charleston, W.Va, to the Nitro site about 15 miles away.
Officials ordered Freedom Industries to move the MCHM from the Charleston site, where they believe about 7,500 gallons of the chemical, which is used in coal processing, leaked from a ruptured container into the Elk River. The spill, just one mile upstream from a water-treatment plant, forced officials to ban residents and businesses in nine counties from using the water for anything other than flushing toilets or fighting fires.
Some of the chemical seeped through a concrete block wall that had been built to stop leaks from reaching the Elk, the Daily Mail reported. It remained unclear Thursday how much of the chemical still remained in the ground at the spill site, officials said.
Freedom Industries did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday morning.