Chemical leaked in West Virginia not used locally
A chemical that leaked into a West Virginia river and potentially harmed the water supply for an estimated 300,000 people is not used in the processing of anthracite coal, according to several industry sources.
"We don't use it and I doubt anyone else who handles anthracite uses it," said Dennis Molesevich, secretary of Molesevich Coal Preparation Plant, Atlas.
Greg Driscoll, president of Blaschak Coal Corp., Mahanoy City, said much the same about the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, known as MCHM.
Duane Fegley, of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council, hadn't heard of it before the leak that's made national headlines.
When it comes to processing anthracite coal, Molesevich and Driscoll said little more than water mixed with the mineral named magnetite is used to sort rock from coal. The magnetite changes the specific gravity of the water, making it heavier and allowing the coal to float, they said.
"We separate the rock from the coal, that's all we do," Driscoll said.
"It's very simple. It's been used since the 1800s and it's still used today," Molesevich said.
The chemical that leaked into West Virginia waterways was being stored at the Freedom Industries facility in Charleston, W.Va. It's used as a foaming agent to wash coal. As much as 7,500 gallons leaked into the Elk River from a 48,000-gallon tank, the Associated Press reported.
An emergency do-not-use order for tap water was issued by the state's governor. It lasted five days before being lifted Monday, according to media reports.
Daniel Spadoni, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, said the agency doesn't regulate MCHM.