CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The facility whose chemical spill contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians flew largely under the radar of government regulators who viewed it as a low-risk operation. But in reality, a problem at a key holding wall went undetected and unreported at Freedom Industries Inc.
The chemicals stored there aren't considered hazardous enough to prompt routine inspections. The storage terminal was a low priority for regulators. They must allocate scarce manpower.
The chemicals were stored behind a brick-and-concrete block dike that seems to have had structural problems. Regulators never visited it, but the company apparently was aware of the issue. A state official says the company president told regulators that Freedom had put $1 million into an escrow account to fix the wall that ultimately failed to hold Thursday's spill.