Elk River Chemical Spill

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Politico

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is still skeptical about safety of drinking water for 300,000 Charleston-area residents.
 
At an appearance Friday in Charleston, the West Virginia Democrat said he would not drink tap water when he is visiting the capital city, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
 

Elk River Chemical spill
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has lifted a state of emergency for nine counties in West Virginia that were affected by a chemical spill into the Elk River by Freedom Industries that tainted the drinking water supply of 300,000 residents.

Each time you go to turn on the faucet, flush the toilet, or water the lawn, you’re connecting yourself to a complex water system with nearly two and a half thousand years of history. The structure of our modern network of reservoirs, pipes, and drains owes much of its influence to designs dating back to ancient Rome. 

West Virginia Legislature

Delegate Meshea Poore has asked Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session to focus solely on legislation to protect the state’s water supply. She's received bipartisan support in her request from more than 20 delegates, including many from the nine counties directly affected by the water crisis.

However, House Speaker Tim Miley and Judiciary Chair Tim Manchin disagree and say that deliberations on Senate Bill 373 will continue.

Bills relating to abortion, drilling waste, and the attorney general's office that were controversial in the House now make their way through the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee discusses expanding pretrial release programs. Soon-to-be-retiring Senator Brooks McCabe discusses the future of West Virginia through his thoughts on teacher pay raises, sustainable water quality, and the future fund.

PBS Newshour via YouTube

On March 24, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Ashton Marra will be one of five participants in "From Beats to Tweets: Media Coverage of the Elk River Spill" for the West Virginia University School of Journalism.  The panel discussion will examine local and national coverage of the event, and discuss the role of social media alongside traditional reporting in keeping the public informed and engaged throughout the events of the

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation has penned a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urging health officials to conduct further studies on the effects of the January 9 Freedom Industries chemical spill.

Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, along with Representatives Nick Rahall, Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley sent the letter Thursday.

The letter supports Gov. Tomblin’s request for additional studies and health monitoring of the more than 300,000 West Virginians impacted by the spill in the Kanawha Valley.

The House of Delegates went through 60 items on their daily calendar on "Crossover Day," the last day for bills to be out of their house of origin. But, House Judiciary heard from environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies as they examined Senate Bill 373, the bill that would regulate above-ground storage facilities. The Senate votes on 11 bills, debates three possible Constitutional Amendments, and also votes on the teacher pay raise bill.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With the state eclipsing the $5 billion mark for tourism revenue in 2012, this week’s Travel  South Conference in Charleston gave visitors bureaus across the state a chance to cash in and drive even more tourism opportunities to their respective areas. But the conference comes nearly seven weeks after the spill of thousands of gallons of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries. 

Many locals worry that the tourism economy would, much like the water, be left with a tainted reputation. Tourism professionals from across the country seemed unphased by the water crisis while here and local travel professionals hope the stigma of the spill won’t last. 

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A few of the hundreds of creditors seeking compensation from the company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill questioned top company officials in bankruptcy court.
 
At Tuesday's meeting administered by a U.S. Department of Justice official, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern and Chief Financial Officer Terry Cline answered questions on company finances from a federal trustee and fewer than 10 attorneys representing creditors.
 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

A federal health official says it's safe to use water contaminated by a chemical spill in West Virginia last month.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously labeled the water "appropriate for use" by everybody, but not "safe."
 

While many would argue West Virginians were not lab rats after the Elk River chemical spill and the subsequent water crisis, in some ways, our news team was just that. Without a doubt, news is an ever-evolving platform in the 21st century and, with that in mind, NPR Digital Services breaks down our coverage over the past seven weeks.

bottledwaterweb.com

When I signed up to be a judge at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, I thought it would just be a bit of fun -- a relaxing weekend in an historic West Virginia mountain spa town.

Then came the water crisis: a massive spill of the coal-cleaning chemical MCHM into our water supply, and more than a week under a “do not use” order.

At the statehouse Friday, members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources continued their hearings on the Elk River chemical spill with testimonies from representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Response Mike Dorsey told lawmakers he’s been working to remediate the site since the initial incident in January.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The company at the center of West Virginia's chemical spill is selling the rest of its chemicals, helping employees find new jobs and winding down operations.

Saying the small company's problems exceed its size, attorney Mark Freedlander announced Freedom Industries' plans in federal bankruptcy court Friday. The company won't use up to $4 million the court had permitted Freedom to borrow to keep running.

The Senate amends a bill that would protect those seeking emergency medical attention for someone else experiencing a drug overdose and also discusses a bill that aims to reduce the variance gas prices across the state. The House  Judiciary Committee takes another look at the False Claims Act. Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department talks medical monitoring and Gov. Tomblin's request to the CDC for more studies on the chemicals involved in the Jan. 9 chemical spill.

Foo Conner / Flickr

A news release from West Virginia American Water Thursday said all points of testing throughout the water distribution system show levels of MCHM below 10 parts per billion.

Crude MCHM is the chemical that leaked from a Freedom Industries site on the Elk River contaminating the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians in 9 counties.

The 10 ppb threshold was established by a state interagency team based on the measuring capabilities of multiple laboratories used during the response to the Jan. 9 spill.

West Virginia Department of Education

The West Virginia Department of Education said through a news release that they are working with the West Virginia National Guard following a directive from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin has called for additional water testing to confirm that all schools in the counties impacted by the chemical leak on Jan. 9 are under 2 parts per billion (ppb).

After smells of licorice, reported symptoms of burning eyes and noses, as well as positive tests of MCHM in recent weeks, tensions remain high over the safety of children after the Jan. 9 spill. Mackenzie Mays of The Charleston Gazette reports that many parents of children in Kanawha County schools are wondering how long schools will provide bottled water and how effective the new "rapid response team" has been. These concerns were the highlight of the Kanawha County Board of Education's Wednesday night meeting.

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