Environment & Energy
5:19 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Casey: Coal Chemicals In Pennsylvania a Matter of Homeland Security

Three thousand gallons of the chemical that spilled into the Elk River and contaminated tap water for 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties has been moved to Armstrong County.

The January West Virginia contamination continues to have lingering effects on the water supply.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) says ensuring a leak like the one that occurred in West Virginia doesn’t happen here is a matter of holding private industry accountable and government regulation, starting from the top with Homeland Security.

“Institutions and probably private sector and public sector institutions didn’t do what they should have done, and we want to make sure that nothing happens in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Casey sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson seeking oversight of the chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM). The chemical was shipped to Pennsylvania’s Armstrong County from West Virginia last week.

In his letter, Casey asked Homeland Security to protect Pennsylvania’s drinking water and food supply and to work with emergency responders on preparedness for an emergency.

The chemical is at a Rosebud Mining Company’s facility. The Tribune Review reported that West Virginia officials ordered Freedom Industries to move it from a site deemed insufficient to contain the chemical.

MCHM is not among the chemicals monitored under federal regulations.

The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market to reduce ash.

In the letter, Senator Casey writes: “As you know, the Department of Homeland Security plays a central role in protecting and preserving our nation’s critical infrastructure, including our waterways, our food and agricultural sector and our emergency services capabilities.”

Casey asked for a response with information about what training and grant programs are available for Armstrong County’s first providers and public officials.

He says he expects a written response but the best response would be action. 

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