McIntyre said a shutdown would have meant no water for toilet flushing or fire protection. He said due to pressure issues and the possibility of pipes breaking, the process would have taken more than one month "under optimum conditions."
In an unorthodox move, Shuster allowed seven residents to address the committee.
Sue Bird, who said she's lived in the Institute area for more than 70 years, said she and fellow residents have asked for more attention to chemical safety for years. She told McIntyre she would never trust the water again.
Another resident asked when the water would stop smelling. No one answered.
Two holes in tank leak
The Chemical Safety Board does know more about the tank that leaked.
Investigators found two holes, one 19 millimeters and another 10 millimeters, according to a picture provided by safety board lead investigator Johnnie Banks.
Taken from inside the tank, the picture shows corrosion on the inner walls around the holes. Moure-Eraso said the CSB is considering requiring corrosion-resistant materials for future tank construction.
The safety board also discovered Freedom's tanks were inspected by a private company in October. The review found the tanks were "maintained to some structural adequacy, but not necessarily in full compliance with" federal standards.
Dorsey originally said he thought the hole in the tank was about one inch in diameter, and he was most recently told by Freedom that at least 10,000 gallons of chemicals leaked.
West Virginia University's Paul Ziemkiewicz had estimated a one-inch hole likely leaked for at least 20 hours.
The smaller size reported by safety board investigators could have affected how long the chemical leaked. Ziemkiewicz said he thought the tank could have been leaking for "months."
After hearing three different estimated leak totals from Freedom, Dorsey said he was going to wait until the safety board determined how much of the chemical leaked into the river.
For now, the site is contained, he said. But he expected the DEP would find more of the chemical on site once the remaining tanks are removed.
A 'wake-up' call
This is the third time since 2008 that a team from the safety board has responded to an event in the Kanawha Valley. The board has recommended the state and county work to create a hazardous chemical release prevention program, among other proposed fixes.
"Perhaps qualified inspectors would have considered aging chemical storage tanks, located just upstream from a public drinking water treatment plant, to be potentially 'highly hazardous' and worthy of a closer look," Moure-Eraso said.
Manchin and others said the spill is a "wake-up call" for the nation. He's already proposed a measure with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., calling for greater regulation of aboveground storage tanks and better emergency management preparedness.
In a statement, Rockefeller thanked the committee for coming to Charleston and criticized the idea that companies have the public's best interest at heart.
"Too many in industry are driven solely by maximized profits, and this cynical strategy has caused tremendous harm to West Virginians' well-being and has shaken their sense of our state's future," Rockefeller said.
Capito said she plans today to introduce the Ensuring Access to Clean Water Act, a measure she said is similar to Manchin and Rockefeller's bill.
At the state level, a House of Delegates committee is scheduled to take up a bill enhancing aboveground storage tank regulation and emergency preparedness standards Wednesday.