CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Scrap metal facilities need to test their stormwater for oil, grease and several other substances found on site under the state's general stormwater protection program.
The same program requires salt storage facilities to test groundwater for chloride, a key component in salt.
It does not require facilities that store chemicals -- like Freedom Industries, the company at the heart of the Elk River chemical leak -- to test stormwater for any of the materials housed on site.
"That's not a bad idea," state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman said when asked about whether the requirement should be changed.
"However, most of the chemicals stored in these tanks would not be subject to a water quality standard."
At least 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM and PPH are believed to have leaked from a hole in a storage tank owned by Freedom. Within hours of the discovery of the leak Jan. 9, the chemical had overwhelmed the local West Virginia American Water Co. treatment plant and left 300,000 people without safe tap water.
Although the water company regularly tests its water for about 60 different chemicals, the list did not include crude MCHM or PPH. Since the spill, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has asked West Virginia American Water to start checking for both.
Freedom operated its Elk River location, also known as Etowah River Terminal, under a general water pollution permit. That permit requires the company to test its stormwater every six months and submit the results to the DEP.
They were required to test for "total suspended solids," "chemical oxygen demand," and oil and grease , according to the permit.
More than a million gallons of chemicals sat in 17 tanks on the site the day the spill was discovered.
"There's nothing in those tanks that should ever be in the stormwater," said Scott Mandirola, director of the division of water and waste management within the DEP.
There are about two dozen sectors included in the permit, each pertaining to different types of facilities.
Freedom's Etowah site was covered under a sector that makes no specific mention of chemical storage.
Instead, it's reserved for facilities like motor freight transportation, petroleum bulk oil stations and terminals, and United States Postal Service transportation facilities.
A 2009 email from Mandirola to John Hutchinson, listed as the manager for Etowah, says the site falls under this particular sector. The email was obtained under West Virginia open records laws.
"Bulk storage of chemicals that are being transported by motor freight fall into this category," Mandirola said Sunday, in a comment emailed by a spokesman.
A document from January 2002 shows the DEP transferred the permit for the site to Etowah from Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. Pennzoil owned the facility for years before Etowah, storing gasoline, petroleum and similar items on site.
Pointing to more language included in the description for the sector, he said the sector also applies to transportation facilities that have maintenance shops.
"This sector was determined to be the best fit for this type of facility," Mandirola said Sunday in the email.
Stormwater samples collected at the site are required to go to a laboratory that is certified by the state, Mandirola said.