Concerns over the water in West Virginia persist 39 days after a coal scrubbing chemical spill affected the water supply of some 300,000 residents across nine counties. One school in Kanawha Co. dismissed early Monday.
According to the state Department of Education, Grandview Elementary in Kanawha Co. closed at 12:15 Monday due to an odor in the water and two school employees complaining of burning eyes and noses.
Spokesperson Liza Cordiero said the Rapid Response Team (made up of individuals from the West Virginia National Guard, the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, the West Virginia DEP’s Division of Air Quality, the Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center and the local school system) was dispatched to the school, detected a slight odor, collected samples, and then recommended early dismissal.
She said another round of sampling will occur after flushing. Previous tests did not detect the associated chemical, crude MCHM, in the school’s water.
In a news release, Kanawha Co. Superintendent Ron Duerring said Grandview is expected to resume classes Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Duerring also noted that the Rapid Response Team also visited Sharon Dawes Elementary, John Adams Middle School, and Alum Creek Elementary on Monday. There were complaints of a slight licorice odor at Sharon Dawes and John Adams. Alum Creek reported oily water in one sink which does not appear to be related to the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River, according to Duerring.
Test results from Sharon Dawes Elementary and Alum Creek Elementary also retuned at non-detect levels. Results for John Adams Middle School are pending.
Five schools in the county were forced to close in recent weeks due to similar concerns when faculty and staff complained of a strong licorice odor following a flushing process.
Local health department officials last week pulled a specific lot of bottled water sent to schools in the county from the Federal Emergency Management Agency despite testing indicating no presence of coliform. Those using the water had complained of a musty smell and an issue with taste.