The water that some 300,000 West Virginians usually depend on to slake their thirst, wash their bodies and brush their teeth is now good for only one thing -- flushing their toilets, authorities told them Friday.Sure it was the Kanawha River and not the Elk River, but I always thought that very large chemical plants in the middle of the river right in the heart of the state capital seemed like a bad idea. Anyway, this is a major big deal. Much like a fertilizer plant explosion or a derailed train leveling much of a town, we seem to be regressing. Notably, when the Bhopal disaster occurred, there was a plant on the Kanawha River using the same process. At least nothing like that took place. Yet.
"We don't know that the water is not safe, but I can't say it is safe," Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water Co., told reporters about the water his company provides to customers in central and southwestern West Virginia.That's been the case since Thursday, when residents of Kanawha County reported a foul odor -- similar to licorice -- in the air.Investigators from the Kanawha County Fire Department and the state Department of Environmental Protection soon found where it all started -- a leak from a 35,000-gallon storage tank along the Elk River, which is a regional water source.The chemical had overflowed a containment area around the tank, then migrated over land and through the soil into the river.McIntyre said Friday he didn't believe the substance -- 4-methylcyclohexane methanol -- was still flowing. At the same time, that doesn't mean the situation will be resolved soon, so people can drink and bathe again."We have no timeline," said the utility executive.
Friday, January 10, 2014
Mountain Spring Water
A chemical spill shuts down the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians: