West Virginia Spill Site Inspected Five Times Since 2001

Report contradicts previous claims there was little regulatory oversight at the facility

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Residents line up for water at a water filling station at West Virginia State University, in Institute, West Virginia, January 10, 2014.

Environmental inspectors paid at least five visits since 2001 to the facility responsible for a chemical spill in Charleston, W. Va on Jan. 9, according to newly released records. The news contradicts previous reports that the facility operated largely without regulatory oversight.

State environmental inspectors found the facility was in compliance with regulations on numerous visits, the Wall Street Journal reports. On one visit in 2010, launched after area residents complained of a strong licorice odor coming from the facility, inspectors traced the smell to storage tanks containing 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, the chemical that seeped into the Elk River and polluted drinking water for roughly 300,000 West Virginians.

A spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday that the agency hadn’t initially been aware of the inspections made of the facility since 1991.

Freedom Industries, the company that owns the facility, declined a request for comment from the Wall Street Journal.