CHEMICAL LEAK LATEST: Testing, flushing begins; Low downstream - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV DHHR Reports over 100 treated from contaminated water; 9 Counties in WV Under State of Emergency due to Chemical Leak

Posted: Updated:

The WV Department of Health and Human Resources have reported over 100 people are reported treated so far from contimated water.  The number of calls so far to posion control have reached over 1,000. For details on the latest WV DHHR, click here.

Testing and flushing continues Jan. 11, two days after a chemical leak from Freedom Industries in Charleston caused a "do not use" order for nine counties in Southern West Virginia.

Concentric flushing is expected to take several days, according to West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre.

"I would expect we're talking days," he said. "West Virginia American Water is prepared to offer a credit to its customers for 1,000 gallons of water."

(Related: Water Filling and Distribution Centers in WV)

He said that number was reached after some analysis, but the credit will be 10 times the amount most customers will need to flush and evacuate their water.

McIntyre said the testing methods have been created to be sure of accuracy and consistency, but there are not adequate results yet to make any decisions, but the CDC has set 1 milligram per liter as the "do no harm" limit for 4- methylcyclohexane methanol, the chemical in question.

(Related: Where WV Residents Can Clean Their Clothes)

"We need to look at a body of results before we can make any determination on water quality," he said. "I'm not going to make any comment (about current chemical levels) because for us, as the water company, we need to see enough sampling and to have a trending analysis that we can support water quality decisions."

McIntyre said the chemical is highly water soluble, and he doesn't think it will collect on any pipelines.

According to Mike Dorsey, chief of homeland security and emergency response at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, it now seems as though original estimates of a 3,000-gallon leak was probably more like 7,500 gallons that spilled from a 1-inch break in a secondary containment system into blocks and mortar where it leaked.

"I do know the (current) company intended to upgrade (the tank)," he said. "We dug a number of interceptor trenches and a number of sumps … to collect the material.

"We located the areas where we think most of the stuffed is leaving and have put the interceptors there."

Dorsey said Freedom Industries has been communicating more with agencies now than it had originally done since the spill first occurred.

(Related: CSB To investigate WV Chemical Spill)

Dorsey said emergency officials in Kanawha County have been in contact with emergency officials from the downstream water systems.

Dorsey said there is no more chemical material coming from the original leak point itself, and there currently are several suction hoses to keep it from getting into the river, but there is a possibility for leaching from the riverbanks and shore areas that could be contributing to the chemical's levels. Dorsey said he hoped the Jan. 11 rainfall would help to dilute and dissolve the chemical in the water, but it could "continue to leach in small amount for some time."

McIntyre said it takes time for the samples to be tested, and there are many samples that have not yet been tested. Dorsey said he did not know parts per million of the chemical at the moment he was speaking.

"I would think the dilution factor, if we're saying as of yesterday the high number was three (parts per million) at the Elk River, by the time you get to the Kanawha River, then the Ohio River … I don't see how it could possibly be a problem for anyone else downriver."

Jimmy Gianato, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the State of West Virginia, said 1.4 million liters of water had arrived from FEMA and 800,000 liters would be on the way Jan. 11 then 800,000 more coming Jan. 12.

"We continue to reach out to private sector partners and volunteer agencies," Gianato said.

(Related: Price Gauging Hotline in Place for WV Residents)

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling said she will coordinate with area health departments and share information for a strategic plan when the water system is back in place.

The next briefing from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office is expected to occur at about 9 p.m. Jan. 11.