CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Freedom Industries claims a building at a site it owns in Nitro will act as an emergency barrier should any of the chemicals it recently moved there spill.
But there's a problem with that claim: The state Department of Environmental Protection says there are holes at floor level in the building's walls, and the chemical involved in the spill isn't stored in the building anyway.
This detail is included in an inspection report that accompanied five notices of violation the DEP made public Wednesday.
DEP inspectors visited the location, known as Poca Blending LLC, Monday after Freedom moved the remaining crude MCHM there from the site of the Elk River spill.
"Secondary containment within the facility was deteriorated or non-existent," the report states. "The plan indicates that the building itself acts as secondary containment, but holes exist at floor level in the building's walls," the report states.
Tom Aluise, DEP spokesman, said the 21 "baker" tanks and tanker trucks storing the chemical are "outside." There's a trench surrounding the facility as well, but it doesn't work as a secondary barrier either, Aluise said.
Friday evening the DEP ordered Freedom to remove the rest of the crude MCHM from the Elk location where at least 7,500 gallons leaked from a hole in a storage tank.
Officials believe the chemical started leaking about 8:15 a.m. Jan. 9. An unknown amount seeped through an old concrete block wall meant to stop such leaks and into the Elk.
The company had $1 million set aside to help fix its emergency containment system, but the company didn't make the fixes in time, one DEP official said company president Gary Southern told him.
The initial complaint to the DEP was filed at 8:16 a.m. Jan. 9, according to a report released Wednesday. The report includes an email between DEP employees.
"Hey there! Just received a call from a gentleman that said there is something in the air at the 77-79 split each morning when he comes into work," the email states.
"He said it is coating his wife's throat. Told him I would give you his contact information. Thanks!!"
By 4 p.m. Jan. 9, West Virginia American Water Co. officials say the chemical had overwhelmed filters at their treatment plant about 1.5 miles downriver from the spill. Later that evening the company issued a do-not-use advisory for its 1,700-mile pipeline network, affecting roughly 300,000 people.
As of Sunday evening, all of the MCHM was moved from the Elk site to the Poca Blending location, DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said. However, there are still eight tanks holding other chemicals at that site, Aluise said in an email.
He said those other chemicals are being stored in the building with holes in the walls.
"Those chemicals will be removed from those tanks per our order once remediation work is done on site. There are hundreds of thousands of gallons still on site but no MCHM," Aluise said.
Like the Elk location, Poca Blending only has a storm water permit, Aluise said.
Facilities like Freedom's on the Elk River and the Poca site don't require additional DEP permits because they only store chemicals, as opposed to producing them or creating emissions.
There was no record of any site inspections kept at the facility. Poca Blending officially merged with Freedom Industries and Etowah River Terminal LLC -- the spot on the Elk River where the chemical leaked -- on Dec. 31.
The state hadn't inspected either site since 1991.
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors began to examine the Elk River site in 2009, but didn't conduct an inspection because it was the wrong type of business for that particular inspection, OSHA spokeswoman Leni Forston said.
OSHA inspectors did the same thing at the Poca Blending location in 2012. Inspectors arrived in April of 2012 and attempted an inspection under an national emphasis program focused on process safety management, Forston said.
Again, they stopped because it was the wrong type of business.
OSHA did announce late Monday it is inspecting the Poca Blending site, "following a media report of potential chemical storage hazards." Inspection at the Elk site is ongoing, Forston said.
Both are the first OSHA inspections of either facility, she confirmed.
The state Division of Labor has never conducted any inspections, safety consultations, or made any reports in general pertaining to the Elk or Poca Blending locations, according to answers provided in response to a request made by the Daily Mail under the Freedom of Information Act.
It also has never done anything at Crete Technologies LLC -- another company listed in the merger with Freedom, Etowah River Terminal and Poca Blending -- or at a business using any other name at the Elk site, according to the response to the FOIA.
State OSHA has no jurisdiction over private companies, acting Commissioner John Junkins said in a phone interview Wednesday.