WV Senate Begins Chemical Spill Investigation

WV Senate Begins Chemical Spill Investigation

Almost all of the 300,000 residents in West Virginia who have been affected by the chemical spill have been told the water is safe to drink, but the state Senate’s investigation into the spill continues.

WEST VIRGINIA - Almost all of the 300,000 residents in West Virginia who have been affected by the chemical spill have been told the water is safe to drink, but the state Senate’s investigation into the spill continues.

The legislators leading the investigation met formally for the first time Friday, and what they discovered about the chemical that leaked into the state's largest water supply was shocking.

"The compound [4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM)] is an oil-based compound and it's also flammable,” said West Virginia Senate Majority Leader John Unger. “So if it is oil based, it's going to be hard to really flush it out of the system."

Unger, who heads the Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, says they also found that the chemical was leaking for at least 15 hours.

The company responsible for the spill, Freedom Industries, filed for bankruptcy Friday, and now legislators are scrutinizing their every move to find out how this disaster happened.

"Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy at this point, which limits what one can do as far as getting compensated or financial damages from that particular company,” said Unger.

Unger has introduced a bill designed to prevent another disaster like this from happening in the future. It would give the water commission more oversight to protect West Virginia’s water supplies.

"It allows for better measurement of [water], it also allows for more oversight of water resources to look at what's out there and what could potentially pollute our water resources, and it also allows the commission to thoroughly investigate incidents such as…chemical spills."

Senate Bill 373 would also allow legislators to put in provisions that improve responses to this type of disaster. It's something Senator Unger says the Eastern Panhandle and whole state will benefit from.

"Could this happen to us? We can't answer that with the affirmative. We don't know in the sense of could it be protected until we put these provisions in place,” said Unger.

To read Senate Bill 373 click here

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