It's been more than six months since crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River from Freedom Industries. The tank responsible for the leak is still standing but soon might finally be coming down.
On Monday, July 14 the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection approved the site’s final storm water management plan.
“Now the contractor is free to begin demolition at anytime,” said Kelley Gillenwater, chief communications officer for the DEP.
Unexpected roadblocks have delayed demolition during the past two months.
The tanks were first expected to be torn down in early June but the process was stopped when Freedom filed for bankruptcy. Demolition was halted once again on June 12 when the company did not have the necessary permits. However, when the permits were approved the process once again was stopped on June 30 when crews discovered asbestos.
“We would rather it be done correctly and carefully than rushed,” said Gillenwater.
According to Gillenwater, contractors responsible for the demolition process submitted a storm water management plan on Friday. However, the DEP finally approved the plan Monday after several revisions.
“If the plan is followed it should be a good way to keep the contaminated material out of the river,” said Gillenwater.
According to Gillenwater, the soil underneath the tanks is contaminated with MCHM. She said if the soil and surrounding areas are not covered or protected, runoff could result in another accident.
To avoid this, the final storm water plan requires the contractor to cover the soil and surrounding area with a liner and avoid cross-contamination by removing excess dirt and mud with shovels and hand tools.
The demolition is expected to last two to six weeks and could start as early as Tuesday. Gillenwater said DEP officials will be there at the beginning of the process and for each major step but officials will not be on the site 24/7.