CHARLESTON, W.Va. - While Freedom Industries' tank farm will soon be gone, there are still 62 other potential sources of contamination sitting upstream of the West Virginia American Water Co. treatment plant, according to a new report released Monday.
Meanwhile, a separate poll released by the Sierra Club found West Virginians are nervous sites like these could again prove faulty and taint the water supply.
The West Virginia Rivers Coalition and independent consultant Downstream Strategies compiled the report about potential contaminants along the Elk River. It indicates there are more threats than listed in previous state-issued reports, and also includes more detailed information about those sites.
"This report is a next step in understanding all of the threats to our water and what needs to be done to make sure we are better protected from the wide range of potential hazards," Angie Rossier, leader of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said in a news release.
A 2002 Source Water Assessment Report issued by the state Bureau for Public Health found 51 sources of potential contamination in the "zone of critical concern" around the treatment plant.
The 51 sites, including Freedom Industries, led the bureau to list the plant at high susceptibility of contamination.
There was little detail about the sites though, and some conflicting information in the report as to the actual number of them, said Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies.
After filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the bureau, Hansen said he received a list of 62 sources. That would indicate the state updated the list, but it's unclear what sources were added.
The map included in the state's report was also unclear.
"It's a mess," Hansen said.
After receiving the information, Downstream Strategies and the coalition created their own report on the sites. They include 10 car dealerships, seven gas stations, four auto-repair shops and a wide range of other sites.
Only one is listed as "aboveground storage tanks," the phrase used to describe the tanks at the Freedom site on the Elk River since the leak.
"That's good news," Hansen said. "But it also means that the aboveground storage tank act is addressing a small portion of the potential issues."
Hansen is referring to a bill in the state Legislature that attempts to address aboveground tank regulation.
While the proposal calls for regular inspections of aboveground tanks, an amendment made in the House of Delegates also calls for an inventory of any other potential contaminant to public water supplies, regardless of how it is stored.