Martinsburg, Vienna Respond to Drinking Water Warnings

May 19, 2016

 

Update: Friday, May 20, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

 

The City of Vienna issued a statement today saying residents may bring clear containers to one of four locations between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to collect water for drinking and food preparation:

  • Grand Central Mall
  • The former Manville site on River Road between 32nd and 28th Streets
  • Vienna Utility Board garage behind 210 60th street
  • Family Carpet in central Boaz

Anyone elderly or in need of assistance can call the city: 304-295-4541, or 304-295-4543.

A Do-Not-Drink advisory remains in effect. 

 

Update: Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 6:14 p.m.

 

A representative from the Martinsburg Water Department said residents should feel safe to drink their tap water. The water department has shut off the intake at Big Springs Water Filtration Plant, which is contaminated with C-8, and switched over to a larger plant. Kilmer Springs Water Filtration Plant in Martinsburg, is the main plant cleaning the city’s water. Testing is underway until the issue is resolved.

 

Original Post:

 

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a drinking water advisory today for the carcinogenic chemical commonly referred to as C-8. Several municipalities in the state have C-8 in their tap water at higher levels than the federal guidelines suggest is safe, leaving city and state officials strategizing on what to do next.

 


Vienna is one town in West Virginia struggling with how to manage chemical contamination in municipal water supplies. The town sits within close proximity to DuPont, a chemical company with a history of environmental contamination problems. City officials say C-8 exists at .1 part per billion in water supplies today. But the new federal advisory says in order for drinking water to be considered safe,  levels should be lower than .07 parts per billion.

Some people say that even that level is dangerous, especially if you live with the contamination every day.

“It is not in line with the latest scientific recommendations by renown toxicologists who said there ought to be no more than .001 parts per billion," said Dr. Paul Brooks, a resident in Vienna and an advisory member of an activist group called Keep Your Promises DuPont. He also said filtration systems need to be put in place immediately.

“And who needs to pay for that is DuPont because they are the ones who contaminated the environment up here,” he added.

West Virginia’s Bureau for Public Health issued a statement saying it’s working with the town of Vienna to implement appropriate precautions, including a Do Not Drink advisory until additional testing and evaluation takes place. “The Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety will assist those affected by the EPA’s advisory, and the state will assist in securing installation of new filters,” the statement said.

Two other public water systems in West Virginia, in Parkersburg and Martinsburg, were also named in a news release issued by Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito. The release says both water systems also were affected by the new EPA thresholds.

Parkersburg Utility Board Assistant Manager, Eric Bumgardner, said the release is incorrect and that PUB's system has measured well below the acceptable C-8 levels for may years. Officials in Martinsburg said they are using additional sources to provide water to customers.

This is a graph of monitoring data from Lubeck's public water facility near Parkersburg that is filtered and monitored by Chemours. The graph shows levels of PFOA before treatment (red) and after (blue). The purple line is the level that was considered safe in West Virginia (.4) until EPA lowered the threshold (.07).
Credit Paul Ziemkiewicz