Chemical Leak
2:38 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

WV TAP Researchers Say Initial Sample Collection Complete, Need Additional Funds

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

WV TAP researchers address the media on Friday, February 21, 2014.

The two scientists leading the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WV TAP, following the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston provided an update on the project Friday. The briefing was held in a Department of Health and Human Resources conference room in downtown Charleston.

Dr. Andrew Whelton and Jeffrey Rosen spoke to reporters and said they have completed gathering samples of 10 homes across the area affected. Samples from both hot and cold water were taken.

The researchers said they have collected 900 samples, with 600 to be tested. The additional 300 will be stored in case of breakage during transport.

The samples being used will be tested in labs in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and California, Whelton said.

Governor Tomblin initially budgeted $650,000 for the project, but researchers requested an additional $112,000 to cover unanticipated costs. A spokesperson for Gov. Tomblin confirmed the request for additional funds has been approved.

The independent project is seeking to determine the odor threshold, as well as review the safety level of MCHM that was determined by state officials after the spill.

The odor threshold study is being conducted by Dr. Michael J. McGuire and Dr. Mel Suffet. Expert and consumer panels will be conducted, said Rosen.

A panel of experts to study the risks of exposure to MCHM is still being formed.

Whelton said the project will remain independent of the government and results of the study will not be handed over to state officials. He said the cooperation of the state is mainly limited to use of state facilities for news conferences, such as Friday's.

A larger sample of homes is expected to be tested in the future, also as part of the WV TAP program. 

Researchers said results from the pilot study of 10 homes are expected in one to three weeks and will be posted online at: wvtapprogram.com.