WV DEP says licorice smell could resurface during Freedom Indust - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV DEP says licorice smell could resurface during Freedom Industries tank demolition; set for end of June

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The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said the demolition at the end of this month of the Freedom Industries steel tanks could stir up the black licorice odor associated with crude MCHM.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered the tanks to be destroyed after the Jan. 9 spill of crude MCHM into the Elk River spoiled the tap water for roughly 300,000 people in parts of nine West Virginia counties.

The demolition process is supposed to begin before the end of June, DEP said.

The work, monitored by the DEP to ensure all protocols are followed, is expected to last two to four weeks and involve all 13 of the remaining tanks at the Etowah River Terminal site except three – being used to store stormwater runoff.

Six fiberglass tanks have already been torn down, DEP said.

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 Friday, June 6. 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 sent.

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 underway. 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.