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West Virginia Water Crisis--Who's really to blame?

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The West Virginia DEP has a history of being reprimanded by the United States EPA for not listing streams affected by the coal industry. ALL industrial wastewater discharges are regulated by federal, state and local regulations. The Charleston Gazette stated that Freedom Industries was given only a ‘General Storm Water Permit’ –and this type of permit also falls under the West Virginia/ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. But Freedom Industries should have been required to apply for the WV/NPDES permit covering Industrial Pretreatment---a process that can take up to six months to complete, and can cost anywhere from $50 to $15,000—just for the application fee, and are subject to annual fees from $50 to $5000. Without the proper permitting being obtained from Freedom Industries, there were no regular inspections. And the site of the chemical leak was not inspected regularly since it was owned by Pennzoil back in 1991. On Sunday’s press conference, WV DEP Chief Mike Dorsey stated that since Freedom Industries was only a storage sight and no NPDES permit was needed. I don’t see the truth behind this statement. This is an Industrial storage sight and would fall under a ‘Category 4’ for industrial activities that require an NPDES permit coverage. I think the possibility of weather exposure and run-off implications were overlooked and neglected by the WVDEP; and the technical writers at Freedom Industries who apply for permit coverage found a way to ‘cut-corners’ to avoid paying the required fees…and now….we’re living in the middle of an environmental disaster…



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