January 09, 2015

Manchin Marks the Anniversary of the Freedom Industries Chemical Spill

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin marked the one year anniversary of the Freedom Industries chemical spill, which contaminated the drinking water supply in nine West Virginia counties and impacted more than 300,000 West Virginians.
“One year ago today, 300,000 West Virginia residents were blindsided when chemicals from the Freedom Industries storage tanks leaked into the Elk River and contaminated our drinking water. This appalling incident should have never happened, and the bottom line is that no one in the Kanawha Valley, West Virginia or across this country should ever have to worry about something like that ever happening again. This anniversary is an opportunity for us all to look back on what positive steps have been taken since the spill and it also serves as a critical reminder that there is more to be done. We must continue to work together at both the state and federal levels to monitor and assess the ongoing research and testing being conducted by the CDC and NIH, and take the additional legislative actions to properly manage our chemical facilities.
“Passing the bipartisan, commonsense Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act is one of my top priorities for the 114th Congress. I was strongly encouraged that the bill passed out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote, and I will do everything I can to expedite the legislative process in the new Congress to pass this important bill so that we can properly protect our drinking water sources and prevent another incident from occurring. In the aftermath of the spill, I pledged to do everything in my power to make sure the water in West Virginia would be the cleanest and safest in America. I still believe that we can achieve that goal, and today, I ask that all West Virginians renew that pledge so that we can once and for all regain the confidence of West Virginia families and communities.”

To review a fact sheet on the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, please click here.

Below is a timeline of Senator Manchin’s actions in response to the Freedom Industries chemical spill:

January 9, 2014 - Senator Manchin spoke with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the regional administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration and Governor Tomblin to ensure that West Virginians were receiving every possible resource from the federal government.

January 17, 2014 – Only days after the incident, Senator Manchin reached an agreement on legislative language with Senator Barbara Boxer, the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, on a bill that would help protect Americans’ drinking water.

January 23, 2014 – After hearing West Virginians directly at numerous town hall events, Senator Manchin called for the hazardous Freedom Industries facility to be torn down in order to restore West Virginians’ confidence in the water quality.

January 28, 2014 – Senator Manchin officially introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act to improve oversight of chemical facilities and help strengthen the ability to prevent similar chemical spills.

February 4, 2014 – Senator Manchin testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing to urge passage of the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act.

February 27, 2014 – Senator Manchin joined the entire West Virginia delegation in sending a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to urge health officials to immediately conduct further studies on the effects of the Freedom Industries chemical spill.

April 3, 2014 – The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee marked up and voted to pass the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote.

July 23, 2014 – At a meeting hosted by Senator Manchin in Washington D.C., Senator Manchin, Governor Tomblin and federal, state and local officials agreed that it was necessary to design and conduct additional scientific testing on the predominant chemicals leaked in the Elk River to ensure the long-term health and safety of all West Virginians impacted by the water contamination.
August 7, 2014 –NIH’s National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) outlined the National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) scientific studies it will conduct on the chemicals spilled into the Elk River. Senator Manchin continues to closely monitor the research findings of these studies, which will be reassessed in August 2015.