Robert Ray and Wilson Dizard
February 11, 2014
A month after one of the most dramatic and disruptive chemical spills in the state’s history, West Virginia is still dealing with lingering questions about the safety of its drinking water, an issue that was front and center in a rare congressional hearing held outside Washington, D.C., Monday in West Virginia.
Though state officials lifted drinking-water restrictions on Jan. 19 and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Feb. 5 that the water was “appropriate for use,” a public hearing held by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Charleston discussed the consequences of the Jan. 9 coal-processing chemical spill that prompted restrictions on drinking and using tap water for 300,000 people in nine counties.
During the hearing, committee members were surprised to learn from the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that an inspection three months before the Jan. 9 spill revealed that the storage tanks at Freedom Industries did not meet federal and industry standards.