Company Behind West Virginia Chemical Spill Fined Just $11,000


freedom industrial MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol Charleston West Virginia

AP Photo/Steve Helber

A storage tank with the chemical designation MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, the chemical that leaked into the Elk River, is shown at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, Va.


The verdict has been reached for Freedom Industries, the company behind the disastrous West Virginia chemical spill that left over 300,000 people without drinking water for ten days this January.

The company will be fined $11,000 by the federal government for "improper storage and infrastructure violations", according to this AP report. Newsweek reported this amounts to $27 to each person affected.

The chemical, known as 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude-MCHM for short, was released from an out-of-date tank into Elk River, exactly one mile from a treatment plant that distributes water to ten counties, including the capital city, Charleston.

At the time of the spill, questions were rampant about the seemingly un-studied toxin.


Seven months later, we know the chemical sent over 400 people to the hospital complaining of exposure-related skin rashes. Crude-MCHM is not, however, one of the 200 chemicals the EPA has published data on. According to a 2010 California Senate review, the EPA has about 83,000 chemicals left to study and report on.

The other legislative result of the spill was the January passage of a bill "imposing tougher regulations on above ground storage tanks, a notoriously under-regulated facet of the hazardous-materials system in West Virginia."