It was not the company responsible for the spill or the West Virginia American Water Company that discovered the leak of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), it was the EPA.
The state Department of Environmental Protection’s air-quality officials discovered the spill — which the company had not reported, the Charleston Gazette reported. “We’re confident that no more than 5,000 gallons escaped,” said department spokesman Tom Aluise. “A certain amount of that got into the river. Some of that was contained.”
But Freedom Industries President Gary Southern said the company is still trying to determine how much MCHM had been released. The steel tank holding the chemical has a capacity of 35,000 gallons.
Furthermore, according to Wired, no one really has any idea what they’re dealing with.
The owner of the storage facility, Freedom Industries, said that it had not yet determined how much of the compound had seeped into the river. And state regulators and water experts said, equally frankly, that they weren’t really sure what to expect from the spill. “This is the first I’ve heard of this chemical,” the director of the West Virginia Water Institute told Salon.
Freedom Industries has been ordered to cease operations until further notice, but the company should probably be more worried about the repercussions for forcing the closure of restaurants, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes in five counties.