Letter to DEP re: Freedom Cleanup
April __, 2015

Submitted to West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection via DEPVRPComments@wv.gov.

RE: Freedom Industries Remediation (VRP#15017-001)

Dear Ms. Hickman,

On behalf of People Concerned About Chemical Safety and the undersigned, I am writing to express our concerns around the data being used to characterize risk as part of the Freedom Industries Voluntary Remediation Project (VRP).

At the March 24th public hearing on this project, representatives in charge of cleanup at the facility stated that they would be utilizing "available toxicological data" to characterize risk in order to implement proper remediation techniques. What has been clear from Day 1 of the January 9th, 2014 incident is that inadequate toxicological data is available to properly determine the risk of the material leaked from the Freedom Industries site along the Elk River.

While numerous tests have been performed, more data is needed to properly understand the actual risk of exposure.

• Past studies assume the spilled material to have the same fate properties regardless of temperature. However, a recent report from Virginia Tech and University of Memphis indicates differing fate properties [1] proving the previous hypothesis false. This indicates the potential for exposure concentrations to vary.

[1] Partitioning, Aqueous Solubility, and Dipole Moment Data for cis- and trans-(4-Methylcyclohexyl)methanol, Principal Contaminants of the West Virginia Chemical Spill. Andrea M. Dietrich, Ashly Thomas, Yang Zhao, Elizabeth Smiley, Narasimhamurthy Shanaiah, Megan Ahart, Katherine A. Charbonnet, Nathan J. DeYonker, William A. Alexander, and Daniel L. Gallagher, Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2015 2 (4), 123-127 DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00061

• The U.S. Geological Survey recently determined that a form of methyl 4-methylcyclohexanecarboxylate [or MMCHC], was identified as another component of the spilled material and that it “likely contributed to the tap water odor complaints of Charleston residents.” No toxicological data is available for this chemical and the CDC has never established a screening level for this chemical. What scientific grounds will DEP stand upon in determining the risk of the site when the data does not yet exist to properly characterize it?

[2] William T. Foreman, Donna L. Rose, Douglas B. Chambers, Angela S. Crain, Lucinda K. Murtagh, Haresh Thakellapalli, Kung K. Wang, Determination of (4-methylcyclohexyl)methanol isomers by heated purge-and-trap GC/MS in water samples from the 2014 Elk River, West Virginia, chemical spill, Chemosphere, Available online 24 December 2014, ISSN 0045-6535, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.11.006. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653514012648) Keywords: Methylcychlohexane methanol; Chemical spill; Contamination; Water; Isomer; GC/MS

[3] http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4095&from=rss - .VT1miGbfesg

Because of the magnitude of this event and the number of people directly impacted by the first event as well as the number of people who could be impacted should risk be mischaracterized without additional testing, we request the following be included in the final VRP work plan:

1. Require additional toxicological tests needed to ensure DEP’s zero-risk commitment on cleanup of the Freedom Industries site.

2. Hire an independent scientist in cooperation with citizen stakeholder groups to serve as a citizen’s scientific advocate throughout the remediation process. This person should:

a. Work with the DEP toxicologist and the toxicologist hired by Freedom remediation consultants to identify additional toxicological testing needed to ensure proper characterization of risk at the remediation site.

b. Serve as a scientific advocate for citizen concerns throughout the remediation process.

3. Require that Freedom Industries obtain independent monitoring equipment capable of detecting chemical contaminants from the site. (We recommend DEP consult with Advocates for a Safe Water System in determining the best use of this equipment.)

No corners should be cut to ensure the cleanup of this site. As such, we highly recommend that DEP seek eligibility for restitution through the criminal court case involving Freedom Industries executives to ensure necessary funding for thorough cleanup of the crime they committed.

Thank you for your commitment to ongoing citizen engagement and for establishing a procedure through which to accept public comments on this process. We look forward to assisting you in meeting zero-risk goals for thorough cleanup of this site.


Maya Nye, Executive Director
People Concerned About Chemical Safety

And the undersigned --
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