Elk River Chemical Spill

Public Health
5:04 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Surveys to Collect Data on Impact of Elk River Spill

Surveys soon to be conducted by local, state, and federal officials will gather data on public health and concerns following the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries into the Elk River.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will hold phone survey and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will conduct a door-to-door questionnaire.

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Business
9:08 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Chemical Spill In W. Va. Tests Tolerance For Big Coal

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 10:27 am

Linda Wertheimer talks to Evan Osnos about his New Yorker piece in which he explores how the coal industry has become a political player in the state, and what that could mean for future regulation.

West Virginia Morning
9:19 am
Wed April 2, 2014

WV TAP Says The Water Is 'Safe', Reactions to Blankenship's UBB Film, Marshall Co. Mushrooms, & More

Taking into consideration dermal and inhalation exposures, as well as ingestion, WV TAP researchers offer a screening level for MCHM eight times as stringent as the CDC's--still yet, they say levels of the chemical in the water below the federal agency's screening level is "safe." Mine safety professors have joined Sen. Joe Manchin in saying they were misrepresented by Don Blankenship's film Upper Big Branch - Never Again. A Marshall County high school senior wins a scholarship by creating a business plan to sell mushrooms.

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Health Effects
8:55 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Panel Deems CDC Screening Level for MCHM 'Safe', Establishes Own 8 Times As Strict

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Independent researchers working together on the taxpayer-funded WV TAP project have already released an expert odor analysis for Crude MCHM, and have delivered the findings of their 10 home testing pilot project. However, the public has repeatedly called for an understanding of potential health effects from the January spill of Crude MCHM by Freedom Industries.

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Chemical Leak
3:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Governor Signs Bill to Protect W.Va.'s Water

Gov. Tomblin was surrounded by members of both the House and Senate as he signed SB 373.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On the same day West Virginia American Water workers began changing carbon filters at their Charleston filtration plant, Gov. Tomblin signed a bill designed to prevent future chemical leaks, like the one that affected that company’s customers, from ever happening again.

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Water Concerns
10:19 am
Tue April 1, 2014

WVAW Changing Carbon Filters at Charleston Plant

West Virginia American Water's Charleston filtration plant.
Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water is beginning the long process of changing water filters that were in place during the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 people.

Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan says the process begins Monday and may take eight weeks or longer. She says only two of the water plant's 16 filters can be changed each week while maintaining service.
 
Residents have expressed concern that these filters have not already been changed. Some have demanded they be changed in letters to the company.

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Emergency Preparedness
3:04 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Kanawha Co. Maps Chemical Storage Sites for Quicker Response

Credit wikimedia / Wikimedia

Just days after a chemical contaminated the water supply of three hundred thousand West Virginians, officials in Kanawha County officials started assessing their response to the disaster and found there were things they could do better. One of those things, having a more clear way to locate chemical storage sites quickly during an emergency.

Emergency management officials say that project is in its initial phases, but will never fully be complete.

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12:59 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Is the Water Safe Yet?

Lead in text: 
In this piece from The Atlantic, Marin Cogan details how little was (and still is) known about MCHM, the chemical spilled into the Elk River by Freedom Industries on January 9 and affected the drinking water of West Virginians across nine counties. The story also highlights failures in policy--from state and federal agencies--such as the Department of Environmental Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Robert Thaw was in the woods when he first heard the news. Every Thursday night, the Charleston-based surveyor and his friends take their mountain bikes to the Kanawha State Forest for a long, punishing ride to work off stress and energy from the week.
Covering the Spill
11:54 am
Mon March 31, 2014

WVU Panel on Elk River Chemical Spill Broadcast As Part of 'West Virginia Talks'

West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra provides insight into coverage of January's Elk River chemical spill as part of WVU School of Journalism's panel discussion on the event.
Credit David Smith / WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism

Last week, West Virginia University's P.I. Reed School of Journalism held a panel on how West Virginia media covered the January 9 chemical spill by Freedom Industries and the subsequent water crisis that affected some 300,000 West Virginians across nine counties.

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11:31 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Letter from West Virginia: Chemical Valley

Lead in text: 
Evan Osnos of The New Yorker runs through the timeline of January's chemical spill into the Elk River by Freedom Industries, the state's reaction to the situation, and how industry and politics played a part in the decades leading up to the spill as well as in the aftermath.
On the morning of Thursday, January 9, 2014, the people of Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to a strange tang in the air off the Elk River. It smelled like licorice. The occasional odor is part of life in Charleston, the state capital, which lies in an industrial area that takes flinty pride in the nickname Chemical Valley.
Environment
6:59 pm
Sat March 29, 2014

Review Of West Virginia Water Finds More Work To Be Done

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

A group of independent researchers has found that the chemical crude MCHM is still present in some West Virginia homes. That's the coal-cleaning chemical that spilled into the Elk River back in January out of a storage tank operated by the company Freedom Industries. The spill contaminated drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. The research group was formed by West Virginia's governor after public pressure.

Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports on the research group's latest findings.

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Waste
6:09 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

MCHM Disposal Ban Case at Hurricane Landfill Dismissed

Credit AP

A judge has dismissed a case that challenged a wastewater permit at a Putnam County landfill after state regulators granted a company's request to end the transport of the wastewater from a Charleston chemical spill.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib dismissed the case Friday.
 

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Chemical Leak
3:15 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

WV TAP Says MCHM Lingers in 10 Homes Tested in Pilot Project

Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Taxpayer-funded researchers say the 10 West Virginia homes they tested each contained traces of a chemical that spilled into their water supply in January.
 
In samples taken Feb. 11-18, chemical remnants were generally about 675 times less concentrated than the federal safe drinking level for the chemical in water. The independent WV TAP group discussed results Friday at West Virginia State University.

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Elk River chemical spill
1:11 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Reporters Discuss How They Covered the Elk River Spill

The Mountainlair is the setting for a panel discussion about media coverage of the Elk River Chemical Spill.

West Virginia Public Radio presents a new program called "West Virginia Talks," an occasional series featuring recordings of panel discussions and lectures from colleges and universities around the state.  Tune in Monday, March 31 at 2:00 p.m. for such a discussion about the Elk River Chemical Spill. 

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Chemical Leak
10:54 am
Fri March 28, 2014

W.Va. American Water Will Change Filters Next Week

Credit West Virginia American Water

West Virginia American Water will begin changing the water filters that were in place during the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for more than 300,000 people.

Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said the process will begin on Monday and may take eight weeks or longer. She says only two of their 16 filters can be changed each week while maintaining water service.
 

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Federal Relief
2:06 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

W.Va. Delegation Asks Obama for Spill Help

Credit Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia's congressional delegation is urging President Obama to reconsider the denial of extra federal aid after a January chemical spill.
 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Feb. 12 denied Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's request for reimbursement for first responders, nonprofits and public agencies that assisted during the spill. Tomblin appealed the decision on March 11.
 

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Chemical Leak
10:01 am
Wed March 26, 2014

WV TAP, Virginia Tech Studies Differ on Spilled Chemical Odor Analysis

Credit Nikthestoned / wikimedia Commons

A Virginia Tech study says a chemical that spilled into 300,000 West Virginians' water supply in January stops smelling at a level 47 times stronger than other researchers found.
 
The group that discovered the lower chemical odor level questioned the Virginia Tech team's methods.
 
The Virginia Tech group said in a news release that it detected the chemical in the air with specialized instruments. It used a gas law to calculate the corresponding odor threshold in water.
 

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Environment
7:39 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Toxic Chemical Dioxane Detected In More Water Supplies

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Earlier this year, a chemical spill in West Virginia forced officials to put a ban on drinking water that affected some 300,000 people. This also highlighted an unsettling truth: While officials test our drinking supply, they're only targeting a few chemicals. Many contaminants go undetected.

Here's NPR's Elizabeth Shogren.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Toxic chemicals can make it into tap water for years without experts knowing it. That's because of a basic fact about how treatment plants test their water.

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Chemical Leak
12:18 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Update: Testing at WVAM Indicates Filtering Process Adds Trace Amounts of MCHM to Water Supply

Credit West Virginia American Water

Updated Tuesday, March 25 at 1:15 p.m.: 

Test results from sampling conducted by the National Guard in and around West Virginia American Water's Elk River plant indicate trace levels of MCHM are being added to the water supply during the filtering process. The results come from 42 samples collected--from various stages of the water treatment process--from Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m. through Saturday, March 22 at  6 a.m.

Results indicate raw water from the Elk River and settled water from post clarifiers (an early stage in the treatment process)--both east and west--are returning non-detectable levels of MCHM. However, results from east and west filters range from non-detectable levels to 0.60 parts per billion (ppb). Results from the finished samples, which have completed all stages of the treatment process, range from non-detectable levels to 0.53 ppb.

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Chemical Leak
10:29 am
Tue March 25, 2014

State DEP Asked to Void Chemical Wastewater Dumping Permit

Credit Department of Environmental Protection

The state Department of Environmental Protection is being asked to void a permit that allowed wastewater to be transported from the site of a Charleston chemical spill to a Putnam County landfill.
 
The Charleston Gazette reports the county and the city of Hurricane made the request last week.
 
Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards says he wasn't told about Waste Management's plan to dump the material mixed with sawdust at the Disposal Services landfill. The water contains traces of the crude MCHM that spilled Jan. 9, contaminating 300,000 people's drinking water for days.   

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