WV Water Contamination in 9 Counties Closes Businesses – Could your business afford a shutdown?
An interagency team including the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia American Water and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that extensive testing has produced results showing that levels of MCHM are below one part per million (1 ppm). The U.S. Center for Disease Controls (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do not anticipate any health effects from these levels and the do not use has started to be lifted according to designated zones. The first zone, which includes the downtown Charleston and East End areas, has now been lifted.
The ban is being lifted in a strict, methodical manner to help ensure the water system is not overwhelmed by excessive demand, thereby causing more water quality and service issues. Zones have been established based on the flow of water from the treatment plant through the system.
West Virginia American Water, along with the interagency team, are communicating the lift zones through a variety of sources including an interactive webpage where customers can enter their home or business address and see their water service status. We strongly encourage all customers with access to the website to use this tool first. This map is accessible here.
Customers are encouraged to regularly visit the map for updates.
In addition to the website, lift zone information is being provided to all media. To supplement the web-based map, automated phone calls using our company customer database will be launched in coordination with lifted zones.
A temporary local 24/7 hotline has been established at 855-390-4569 for additional clarification. The hotline is for the exclusive purpose of helping customers in border areas gain clarification or for those who do not have internet access. Representatives will not be able to provide any information beyond clarification on lift locations. All other questions should be directed to our Customer Service Center at 1-800-685-8660.
Customers in lifted zones will need to flush their home plumbing systems.
West Virginia American Water is providing flushing guidance via its website, media, and call center. Only customers located within the zones that have been lifted should begin flushing. Please do not begin flushing until your zone is lifted, nor flush beyond the necessary 20 minutes and put additional strain on the water system.
Customers might still experience a slight odor, but all test results in the lifted zones are below health risk levels determined by the Center for Disease Control.
West Virginia American Water will be offering residential customers a credit of 1000 gallons, which is more than will what likely be required to flush the average home. The average residential customer uses approximately
3,300 gallons per month.
West Virginia American Water thanks all its customers for their patience and cooperation during this event. The company continues to work with the state to provide both bulk and bottled water to impacted residents.
1/11/14 at 2:00 PM
WVAW Water Quality Update
- An interagency group consisting of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia American Water, Army National Guard Civil Services Team, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and other subject matter experts is working together to make decisions regarding water quality.
- The U.S. Center for Disease Controls (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that drinking water is protective of public health at a MCHM (4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol) level at or below one part per million (1 ppm). These agencies do not anticipate any health effects below this level.
- Four laboratories have been set up with the standards and methods to measure MCHM levels in a uniform manner.
- The Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant must consistently produce water samples indicating results at or below this level before the current “do not use” order is lifted. At this time, there are an inadequate number of sampling results to report.
- Even when water produced by the plant meets acceptable health levels, extensive testing must be conducted in the distribution system before the “do not use” order is lifted.
- An interagency water sample collecting and testing procedure has been established and communicated to all agencies involved. The agencies involved met at 8 a.m. Saturday morning to discuss this procedure and reach consensus on a plan for systematic flushing based on hydraulic modeling of the Kanawha Valley water distribution system.
- Concentric flushing beginning at a central location and moving out to the far ends of the distribution system is expected to take several days but will not be simultaneous based upon the construction of the system. The timeline may vary based on geographic location, customer demand and other factors that impact water usage and availability.
- The Kanawha Valley water system is the largest and most complex water system in the state, with over 100 water storage tanks and more than 1,700 miles of pipeline.
1/11/14 at 11:28 PM
Additional Water Buffalo and Tanker Sites Open Kanawha County Emergency Officials through the assistance of West Virginia American Water and the National Guard have obtained “Water Buffalos and Water Tankers” to assist with the distribution of water to the citizens. Citizens will need to take their own containers, plastic bottles, jugs and pitchers, to obtain water from the water buffalos and water tankers.
Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department
GeStamp Stamping Plant-South Charleston
Malden Volunteer Fire Department
Marmet Volunteer Fire Department
Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department
Clendenin Volunteer Fire Department
St. Albans West Side Station
Nitro Fire Department
Tyler Mountain Volunteer Fire Department
Crossings Mall – Elkview
Glasgow Volunteer Fire Department
Pratt Volunteer Fire Department
Belle Volunteer Fire Department
Charleston Fire Department – Station 1 – Morris Street
Charleston Fire Department – Station 2 – 800 Block of West Washington Street
Charleston Fire Department – Station 8 – Orchard Manor
Video Conference with West Virginia American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre:
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has issued a state of emergency for 9 counties after a chemical leak in Kanawha County Thursday morning. The state of emergency includes West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.
“It’s just so important, according to the health department as well as West Virginia American: Please don’t drink, don’t wash with, don’t do anything with the water,” said the Governor.
Early Friday afternoon, Gary Southern, President of Freedom Industries released the following statement:
“Since the discovery of the leak, safety for residents in Kanawha and surrounding counties has been Freedom Industries’ first priority. We have been working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue.
Our team has been working around the clock since the discovery to contain the leak to prevent further contamination. At this point, Freedom Industries is still working to determine the amount of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM, a chemical used in processing coal, that has been released, as the first priority was safety, containment and cleanup.
Freedom Industries is in the process of setting up an Incident Command Center on site. As more factual information is made available, we will keep you updated.”
At this time, officials say there is no timeline for when the water ban, put in place for residents in parts of nine counties, will be lifted.
1/10/14 at 11:15 AM
CLARIFICATION: We have added the community of Culloden in Cabell County to this list. All other WVAW customers in Cabell County are NOT affected, as they receive their water from the Huntington Water Treatment Plant. Also to clarify, customers who are served by the City of Hurricane, St. Albans, Putnam PSD, Montgomery and Cedar Grove/East Bank are NOT affected.
“West Virginia American Water has issued a DO NOT USE WATER NOTICE for all West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties, as well as customers in Culloden in Cabell County. A chemical spill occurred along the Elk River, causing contamination of your water. Due to the nature of the contamination, as a precaution, customers should not use their water for any purpose. Bottled or alternative sources of water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, food preparation, baby formula and all other purposes until further notice. Water quality specialists continue to monitor water, and crews will conduct flushing throughout the distribution system. West Virginia American Water will inform you when it is determined that the water is once again safe to use.”
1/10/14 at 9:36 AM
Additional Water Buffalo and Tanker Sites Open
Kanawha County Emergency Officials through the assistance of West Virginia American Water and the National Guard have obtained “Water Buffalos and Water Tankers” to assist with the distribution of water to the citizens. Citizens will need to take their own containers, plastic bottles, jugs and pitchers, to obtain water from the water buffalos and water tankers. Two locations have been set up and ready for citizens. Additional locations will be set up within the hour.
Crossings Mall – Elkview
Riverside High School
South Charleston Recreation Center
West Virginia State University (until 6:00 p.m.) – Institute
Glasgow Fire Department
East Bank Volunteer Fire Department
Aldersgate United Methodist Church – Sissonville
Please note that locations will change throughout the day. We will keep this page posted with the latest information.
We are still working to obtain bottled water to place throughout the county at distribution centers. Check out the link below for water filling stations. http://www.wowktv.com/story/24412205/water-filling-and-distribution-centers
If you are elderly, disabled or ill and cannot access water, please call the Emergency Operations Center at 304-746-8828 for assistance. Water will not be delivered to homes unless there is a serious illness or need.
West Virginia American Water has expanded the order to Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane & Jackson counties, as well as customers in Culloden in Cabell County.
West Virginia American Water says customers on Queen Shoals PSD, Lincoln PSD, and Reamer Hill are also impacted by the advisory.
WVAW customers are told not to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing, or bathing. You can use the water for toilets and fire emergencies.
Boiling water will not get rid of the chemical.
This is believed to impact more than 300,000 customers.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said restaurants, bars, day-care centers and other businesses with a health permit in Kanawha and Putnam counties would be sent a message to “cease operations immediately.”
Gupta said there are about 1,200 health department permits issued in Kanawha County and about 300 in Putnam County, where the Kanawha department has temporarily taken over health enforcement duties.
The Do Not Use advisory also extends to restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and other establishments that use tap water.
Homeland Security says if you feel sick, seek medical attention at a local hospital or call poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. According to a news release, the leak happened at Freedom Industries in Charleston, West Virgina. The leaked product is 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which is used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation.
A variety of posts on social media have expressed grave concern for the lack of urgency of the communications, and affected residents state they have been using water throughout the day, unaware of the State of Emergency order.
The methanol was spilled from a 48,000-gallon tank belonging to Freedom Industries, a “producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries,” located one mile from the West Virginia American Water Company. This type of Methanol emits a licorice-like smell, which reportedly alerted authorities to the danger.
Criticismfor lack of communication seems largely reserved for Freedom Industries rather than the state or water company. The chemical company has yet to issue a statement on the incident (but is expected to do so this morning at 10:30 A.M. Eastern).
West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said at Thursday’s news conference that the company was “fairly confident” earlier in the day that its plant could handle the treatment of the chemical.
“It’s clear the chemical has infiltrated the water,” McIntyre said. “In an abundance of caution, we are taking these steps today.”
He said the water company is testing the water to better understand the concentration that entered its treatment system.
When asked what might happen if a person consumed the chemical, McIntyre didn’t get specific, only saying “it’s not particularly lethal in its usage form” and the effects of the chemical would depend on its concentration.
A notice on the company’s Facebook page reads:
“West Virginia American Water has issued a DO NOT USE WATER NOTICE for all West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties. A chemical spill occurred along the Elk River, causing contamination within the Kanawha Valley water system. Due to the nature of the contamination, as a precaution, customers should not use their water for any purpose. Bottled or alternative sources of water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, food preparation, baby formula and all other purposes until further notice. Water quality specialists continue to monitor water, and crews will conduct flushing throughout the distribution system. West Virginia American Water will inform you when it is determined that the water is once again safe to use.“
4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol can be irritating to the eyes, the respiratory system and skin. Safety Statements as found on Chemical Book read:
- In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice
- Take off immediately all contaminated clothing
- After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of … (to be specified by the manufacturer)
- Do not empty into drains
- Never add water to this product
- Take precautionary measures against static discharges
- This material and its container must be disposed of in a safe way
- Wear suitable protective clothing
- Wear suitable gloves
- Wear eye/face protection
The WV DHHR also updated symptoms: severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation, non-stop vomiting, trouble breathing or severe skin irritation such as skin blistering.
According to an article in the WVGazette:
Mike Dorsey, director of emergency response and homeland security for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said his division learned of the incident around noon from Department of Environmental Protection air-quality officials — who had received odor complaints about the facility as early as 7:30 a.m.
The DEP’s air-quality officials discovered the spill — which the company had not self-reported to regulatory agencies — and called Dorsey’s unit, which handles such matters for the DEP.
State investigators discovered the material was leaking from the bottom of a storage tank, and had overwhelmed a concrete dike meant to serve as “secondary containment” around the tank, Dorsey said.
“That was going over the hill into the river,” Dorsey said. “Apparently, it had been leaking for some time. We just don’t know how long.”
The state Department of Homeland Security has contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to try to have more bottled water brought into the area, Tomblin said. Later Thursday, the governor said he’d spoken with FEMA’s director, Craig Fugate.
Follow WSAZ NewsChannel 3 on Facebook for Updates
DO NOT USE WATER NOTICE from Kanawha-Charleston Health Department
Due to the nature of the contamination, it is not safe to use the water for any purpose. Alternative sources of water should be used for all purposes.
Bottled water or water from another, safe source should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, food and baby formula preparation and all other purposes until further notice. The current acceptable uses of tap water are toilet flushing and firefighting.
The need for this order is due to a chemical spill of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol along the Elk River in Charleston.
What is being done?
Water quality specialists continue to monitor both raw and finished water and crews will conduct flushing throughout the distribution system.
West Virginia American Water will inform you when it is determined that the water is once again safe to use.
For more information, please contact Customer Service at 1-800-685-8660.
General guidelines on ways to lessen the health risk are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.