After weeks of wrangling, demolition has started on storage tanks at the site of a January chemical spill in Charleston, WV, that contaminated public drinking water for 300,000 residents.

Demolition at the former Freedom Industries site on the Elk River should take two to four weeks unless there are major weather delays, said officials at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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The DEP said a contractor started the process of cutting 10 steel tanks Tuesday afternoon. Four other tanks will remain on site to store stormwater runoff that comes into contact with potentially contaminated soil.

The company had delayed the teardown multiple times. One of the delays involved asbestos issues in tank gaskets and elsewhere.

Schneider Bold

The Jan. 9 spill of a coal-cleaning agent prompted water-use restrictions for West Virginia American Water customers in nine counties.

State officials discovered thousands of gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) and other chemicals leaking Jan. 9 from a tank at Freedom’s Etowah River Terminal. Some 10,000 gallons seeped under and through visible holes in the concrete wall meant to serve as an emergency barrier in the event of a leak or spill and ended up in the Elk River.

Over 10,000 gallons of MCHM leaked into Charleston’s water supply from a Freedom Industries storage tank. The drinking water of more than 300,000 West Virginians ended up contaminated.

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