Health & Science

Alpha Natural Resources

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.
 
The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.
 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A state bill would no longer change West Virginia law to require prescriptions for cold medicines that are used to make methamphetamine.
 
Instead, lawmakers tweaked the proposal to cut in half how much medicine someone can buy each year.
 

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The winter of 2014 continues to break records in West Virginia.

The National Weather Service says a blast of arctic air on Tuesday broke low temperature records for March 4 in Wheeling, Morgantown, Elkins and Lewisburg.
 
In Elkins, the temperature dropped to minus-10 degrees. The previous record was minus-7 degrees in 1996.
 

Chuck Frostick

The Senate recently passed the “Move to Improve Act” which could change the daily grind in state classrooms. The bill is in response to the Healthy Lifestyles Act, which was passed by the legislature in 2005 without a mechanism to assure implementation. Lawmakers say they’re trying to address an epidemic of childhood obesity in West Virginia. 

Children and teens spend more than half of their waking hours at school.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia company at the center of a January chemical spill is hiring experts to preserve emails and phone records for ongoing investigations.
 
Freedom Industries will pay Vestige Ltd. about $42,500 to maintain electronic evidence, which is needed for a U.S. Attorney's Office investigation and other chemical spill inquiries.
 

Jessica Lilly

Northfork has been on a boil water advisory since July 2013, even longer than the folks in neighboring Wyoming County in Bud/Alpoca. It’s the seventh boil water advisory since 2009. Some residents in higher elevations have gone more than five weeks without water in their homes.

Eileen Collins
Eileen Collins

Rocket Girls and Astro-nettes is the story of women in the ultimate Man’s World – the labs and Shuttle crew cabins of NASA. 

Catch the broadcast Thursday March 12 at 9 pm.

Told in the first person, these stories explore the experiences of NASA’s first woman engineers and scientists and its first astronauts.  It also tells the fascinating story of a group of women pilots who – in the early 1960s – were led to believe that they would be America’s first women astronauts and were given the exact same physical tests are the Mercury astronauts. 

Jessica Lilly

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin lifted the state of emergency for nine counties on Friday. It’s been about seven weeks since 300,000 customers lost access to clean water after a chemical leaked into the Elk; a river upstream from the intake to West Virginia American Water’s treatment plant.

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. 

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.

Jessica Lilly

The West Virginia Public Service Commission is just days away from issuing a final order that is expected to bring some folks in Wyoming County closer to clean water. Folks in Alpoca and Bud including Herndon Consolidated School have been on a boil water advisory since September with water running a dark brown at times.

Part of the holdup has been a business deal with the current owners and the Eastern Wyoming County Public Service District.  Public Service Commission orders issued this week are helping to move the sale along.

Mountain State Brewing Co.

Growers are being sought to participate in a three-year research project to determine the viability of hop production in West Virginia.
 
The project will be conducted by the West Virginia State University Extension Service.

drugs.com

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia continues to express concern about alleged meetings between pharmaceutical manufacturers and officials at the Food and Drug Administration who oversee safety regulations of painkiller medicine.

Pills, Drugs, Prescriptions, prescription drugs
RayNata / wikimedia

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's brother is facing a federal drug distribution charge.
 
A federal information charges 50-year-old Carl Tomblin of Chapmanville with illegally distributing oxymorphone, a prescription painkiller, on Dec. 6, 2013, at or near Chapmanville.
 

Water donations from across the country have poured into Wyoming County since our original report.  The folks in Bud and Alpoca were dealing with unpotable water, running a dark brown at times, months before the chemical spill in Charleston.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

The West Virginia Senate has passed legislation requiring physical activity for students.
 
Under the Move to Improve Act, elementary school students must participate in 30 minutes of physical education three days a week.

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."
 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A proposal to ban abortions in West Virginia after 20 weeks of pregnancy has passed a second legislative panel with no discussion.

The House of Delegates Judiciary Committee cleared the bill on a split vote Friday, potentially setting up a contentious debate on the House floor. Committee chairman Tim Manchin didn't allow debate on the bill.

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.

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.

As Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail reports, state officials estimate the cost of the response to the January 9 chemical spill by Freedom Industries at $3 million. That number does not include costs from county emergency services or local school boards, and not all of it will be reimbursed by FEMA.

The folks in a Wyoming County community were dealing with unpotable water months before the chemical spill in Charleston.

About 170 customers, around 500 people, have been on a boil water advisory since September.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Federal health experts say they'll talk with West Virginia officials about what lab studies are needed on little-known chemicals that spilled into a water system last month.
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said Wednesday the CDC will reach out to the state about possibly conducting more studies.
 

State regulators say tests indicate water quality hasn't changed following a coal slurry spill in a Kanawha River tributary.
 
The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission tested water samples Saturday through Tuesday at Huntington's water intake on the Ohio River. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says the results indicate no water quality changes.
 

WCHS

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is exploring the city taking on testing of hotels and homes, to "prove to folks that the water is okay if, in fact, it is."

Jones said he doesn't know how many samples would be collected because he is awaiting a report from an Ohio-based company that would outline the cost of testing. He didn't reveal the name of the company. 

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia company involved in last month's chemical spill is heading back to bankruptcy court.
 
Freedom Industries will return to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse for a 10 a.m. hearing Friday. The company wants to hire experts and environmental consultants to assess the circumstances surrounding its Jan. 9 spill.

Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

West Virginia regulators say a coal operator can begin testing new control measures at the site of a slurry spill.
 
The Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that it has modified an order halting all work at Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle preparation plant in Winifrede.
 

Chuck Roberts / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling Tuesday sent a letter to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to formally request the CDC, or its partners, immediately conduct further epidemiological and/or toxicological studies and address ongoing population surveillance or monitoring as a result of the January 9 Elk River chemical spill.

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