Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 11, 2014

Citizens helping victims of chemical spill in Elk

CHARLESTON — After distributing 7,000 gallons of water in a two-hour period Friday evening, Jimmy Gianato, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he was tired, but at the same time, inspired.

“The response has been incredible,” Gianato said. “The governor (Earl Ray Tomblin) set up a food and water drop-off place here at the Capitol, but it turned into a distribution site. We have plenty of soldiers with the National Guard here, some additional troops, folks from the county, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel, and volunteers here to help.

“The lines stretched back to where you couldn’t see the end, but everyone got what they needed,” Gianato said. “To me, it was just another example of West Virginians helping West Virginians. I’ve been through several challenging events, but one thing has been constant — West Virginians helping West Virginians.”

The spill from Freedom Industry Inc.’s Etowah River plant on the Elk River in Charleston hasn’t stopped, Gianato said. “The tank that leaked is empty,” Giananto said, adding that all of the 4-methylclohexane methanol has been pumped out. “But we’re still seeing the product in the water.”

Gianato said that emergency management personnel could not deploy containment booms like the ones used in most situations involving spills. “The product is real soluble in water. You can’t really remove it from the water.” He said emergency responders are conducting frequent water sampling above the West Virginia American Water intake and below to monitor the situation. In the meantime, supplies are flowing into the region.

“After that first night, a lot of people went out and bought up all of the available water,” Gianato said. “We worked to get water buffalos (mobile water storage containers) to communities in the nine-county region. Here at the Capitol, we gave out 7,000 gallons of water in just two hours. The governor has one million liters of water coming in tonight, and we’ll keep bringing another million liters in every night as long as we need it.”

Gianato said emergency personnel in the state recently trained for a similar scenario during an exercise at the Bluestone Dam. “I think the training really helped us on this situation,” he said. “We’re in good shape for now, but we’re not done.”

He said that the morale among the emergency responders is good, and he expressed appreciation for the support from people throughout the state. “It’s the way West Virginians are,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at

Text Only
Local News
  • new water treatment facility Officials break ground on new waste water facility

    Rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm Thursday when ground was broken for a wastewater plant that will double both the treatment capacity and opportunities for economic development in the Claypool Hill and Wardell communities.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee voting lagging

    Absentee balloting is off to a slow start in a closely-watched Southwest Virginia Senate race that will determine which political party controls the General Assembly.  
    Three candidates are vying to succeed former lawmaker Phillip Puckett, who resigned in June. A special election is set for Aug. 19. The candidates are Republican A. Benton “Ben” Chafin Jr. Democrat D.M. “Mike” Hymes and independent Rick A. Mullins.

    July 25, 2014

  • Civil complaint filed against GM alleging defects caused local woman’s death

    The estate of a young Mercer County woman and her unborn child have filed a civil complaint in Mercer County Circuit Court alleging that a defective ignition switch in the woman’s 2005 Chevy Cobalt led to her death as well as the death of her unborn child.
    Keisha Dawn Vest, 26, of Princeton, the wife of Jason Vest, and mother of a (then) 3-year-old son, was driving to Mt. Airy, N.C., on May 2, 2006, when the brakes on her vehicle failed. Mrs. Vest was working in Mt. Airy as an MRI technician. Without brakes, Mrs. Vest lost control of her vehicle and entered an intersection into the path of a tractor-trailer. She died as a result of the injuries she received in the wreck.

    July 25, 2014

  • ‘Overwhelming:’ Area fans supporting Saints trip to West Virginia

    The community response to the New Orleans Saints’ three-week visit to The Greenbrier for training camp can be described best in one word that Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and Saints head coach Sean Payton all used Thursday when discussing the team’s first 24-plus hours in the Mountain State.
    “Overwhelming,” they all agreed.

    July 25, 2014

  • Police continue to search for suspects in local robberies

    Three robbery suspects remain at large in Mercer and Tazewell counties.

    July 25, 2014

  • Construction begins ... Ground broken on Tazewell County wastewater treatment plant

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee balloting underway in closely watched 38th senatorial district contest

    July 24, 2014

  • Princeton man sues GM over wife’s crash death

    July 24, 2014

  • Press conference ... Son gets life for murders

     After pleading no contest in Tazewell County Circuit Court to charges of capitol murder-robbery, a Virginia man was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the murder of his own parents.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Search continues for suspect impersonating a police officer

    The deputy who is leading the investigation into last weekend’s incident involving an individual who made a traffic stop while impersonating a police officer said she has stepped up the search, and hopes to have a sketch artist work with the victim to get a description.

    July 24, 2014

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Local News Videos