In January, a storage tank with the chemical designation MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, belonging to Freedom Industries, spilled into the Elk River and left 300,000 people in West Virginia without drinking water for 10 days.
Many people expected a large fine, but the federal government only ordered the company to pay $11,000. Citation documents from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) state that a $7,000 fine applied to not keeping chemicals “liquid tight” and another $4,000 for not providing handrails in areas where employees are required to walk over storage dikes.
The tank responsible for the spill turned out to be out-of-date and affected the drinking water of 10 counties. Freedom Industries filed bankruptcy shortly after the spill.
One positive out of the fiasco is the fact that the chemical leak led to a bill passing for “imposing tougher regulations on above ground storage tanks, a notoriously under-regulated facet of the hazardous-materials system in West Virginia.”