Reuters logo
UPDATE 1-West Virginia AG vows probe after chemical spill fouls water
January 15, 2014 / 4:35 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-West Virginia AG vows probe after chemical spill fouls water

By Ian Simpson
    Jan 15 (Reuters) - West Virginia's top law enforcement
officer on Wednesday vowed a full investigation of a chemical
spill that contaminated tap water for hundreds of thousands of
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said there was a lot of
speculation surrounding the spill into the Elk River at
Charleston, the state capital, on Thursday that shut off water
to more than 300,000 people.
    "We had an absolute unmitigated disaster here for six days
now where people are without water. This is not only utterly
unacceptable. It's outrageous on every level," Morrisey told
    He said that his investigation would be designed to ensure
that another such spill never happened again, and local, state
and federal officials all shared responsibility.
    "We're going to look under the hood, we're going to uncover
all the rocks and we're going to let the sunlight in," Morrisey
    The U.S. Chemical Safety Board and the U.S. Attorney for the
Southern District of West Virginia also are investigating the
leak of about 7,500 gallons (28,000 liters) of
4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude MCHM, into the river.
    About 52,000 water customers have been cleared to drink or
wash with tap water as of Wednesday, according to a statement by
West Virginia American Water. Officials have said it might be
several days before the entire system, with its hundreds of
miles (km) of pipe, is safe to use.
    Officials ordered water use halted for everything but
flushing toilets after the leak from a storage tank owned by
Freedom Industries, a maker of specialty chemicals.
    The Freedom Industries site has not been inspected since
1991 and is about a mile (1.6 km) upstream from a West Virginia
American Water plant, the biggest in the state. Crude MCHM is
used in washing coal and Freedom Industries has apologized for
the incident.
    Downstream from the spill, the Northern Kentucky Water
District and the Greater Cincinnati Water Works have shut their
intakes on the Ohio River as a precaution, the companies said in
separate statements.
    The chemical is at much lower concentrations than it was in
West Virginia and is expected to reach the Cincinnati area on
Wednesday morning, the Northern Kentucky Water District said.
    Water tainted by crude MCHM smells faintly of licorice.
Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness,
diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin.
    West Virginia American Water is a unit of American Water
Works Co Inc.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below