MCHM

Freedom Industries
AP

People affected by a 2014 chemical spill into a West Virginia river will soon receive their first batch of settlement checks from a class-action lawsuit.

Freedom Industries
AP

West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito say the state is receiving $1.2 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to battle surface water pollution.

A release from the two U.S. senators says the grant will also help West Virginia implement an "effective underground storage tank state regulatory program."

Freedom Industries
AP

Residents and businesses in nine West Virginia counties left without tap water during a 2014 chemical spill can start filing claims.

According to a website set up to handle claims, forms were being accepted both online and by mail started Wednesday.

Freedom Industries
Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal judge in West Virginia has declined to grant preliminary approval of a $151 million settlement of class-action litigation stemming from the January 2014 water crisis, saying he wanted changes made to the deal.

Kanawha River
Acroterion / wikimedia commons

A Kanawha County official is demanding more details about a small spill along the Kanawha River that apparently involved the same primary chemical that caused a water crisis in the area three years ago.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports County Commission President Kent Carper wrote a strongly worded letter Monday to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regarding a small spill at a coal preparation facility last week.

Elk River Chemical spill
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Federal government scientists have released a final update of their study of the January 2014 chemical spill that temporarily fouled the drinking water supplies of 300,000 Charleston-area residents, reporting no significant new findings.

WCHS-TV

A judge says he wants more information before he'll approve a class-action settlement stemming from a 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia that contaminated drinking water supplies.

The case involves Kanawha Valley residents and businesses and two former top officials from Freedom Industries.

In light of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, this week on Inside Appalachia we remember the West Virginia water crisis from 2014. We’ll also hear from people in the coalfields who don’t have access to clean water, day in and day out. And we’ll honor the traditional “Appalachian” way of coming together to lean on each other.

Freedom Industries
AP

More than $2 million will be distributed to residents and businesses affected by a 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia under a liquidation plan approved by a bankruptcy judge.

Freedom Industries' plan also will provide $1.4 million to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and environmental firms for continued cleanup work.

photo by Cecelia Mason

Appalachia is no stranger to industrial or environmental disasters that affect our water. Because of crumbling water infrastructure in many coalfield communities, folks often turn to bottled water for regular use.

But not all bottled water is equal. At least that’s according to judges at the 25th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting & Competition, which took place February 19-22. The competition judges the taste of bottled water, purified water, and municipal city waters from across the world were judged.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

As soon as he was made aware of the Freedom Industries' chemical spill and the tap water use ban, Dr. Rahul Gupta said his main concern was the health and safety of the citizens in the affected area.

In January of 2014, Gupta was serving as the Executive Director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, a position he held since 2009, and was very vocal when responding to all of the possible health concerns related to the spill.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Friday marks one year since a chemical tainted the drinking water supply for 300,000 people in and around Charleston, leaving some without usable water for as many as ten days. State lawmakers immediately took action to regulate aboveground storage tanks like the one responsible for the contamination, but the regulatory effort is on going.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It was some ten days before all of the families affected by the tap water ban following Charleston’s chemical spill were able to return to life as usual within their homes. And many did just that, once again drinking, cooking and bathing with water straight from the tap. The same, however, can’t be said for every family in the valley including Lida Shepherd, who says she still won’t drink the water.

Mike Youngren / Presidio Studios in Lewisburg

Mike Youngren has lived in Charleston for the last 20 years. A West Virginia Public Broadcasting alum, Youngren pursued filmmaking after retiring. When the January 9th chemical leak happened, Youngren decided the problem was widespread enough for people to stop to pay attention to what he had to say. With this in mind, he decided to develop his documentary, Elk River Blues.

http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/

Federal health researchers say a chemical that spilled into 300,000 people's water supply in January is toxic to pregnant rats in high doses.

The National Toxicology Program provided the update Friday on MCHM, a coal-cleaning agent.

Researchers found slight fetal weight changes for rats given daily doses 150 times stronger than what officials called safe for human drinking.

At 300 times the safe level, fetal weight decreased. At 600, some rats' fetal weight dropped, while miscarriages increased.

Others at 600 and 900 showed obvious clinical toxicity.

Federal health officials are outlining new studies on the chemicals that spilled into West Virginia's largest drinking water supply.

The National Toxicology Program said in a Thursday memo that potential pregnancy and liver complications are among study topics.

One study will see if pregnant rats exposed to MCHM show birth defects or health issues in their offspring.

Another will see how the chemicals affect zebrafish and roundworms over their entire lifespans.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The storage tank that was the source of a chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water supply for 300,000 West Virginians on January 9 has been demolished. Tank 396, which housed the coal-scrubbing compound MCHM, was demolished Tuesday afternoon. Contractors began demolition of the tank farm on July 15.

AP

Federal, state, and Kanawha county officials met Wednesday in U.S. Senator Joe  Manchin’s Washington D.C. office to pin down plans for more studies on the January 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries. The announcement comes as a relief to those who’ve been pressing for this development since almost day one. 

Members of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the West Virginia Department and Health and Human Resources were part of the meeting.

AP

  A new study shows a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest drinking water supply in January could be more toxic than a previous test indicated. But the researcher behind the study cautions there are differences between his tests and earlier studies.

University of South Alabama researcher Dr. Andrew Whelton released the findings Thursday from crude MCHM toxicity tests on freshwater fleas.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

  Federal officials aren't granting a state request for more animal tests for a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's largest drinking water supply in January.

In February, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked for additional tests to determine the long-term health effects of consuming, breathing or coming in contact with the spilled chemical, crude MCHM.

In a March 13 letter made public Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told state health officials it believed long-term effects were unlikely. CDC described plans only to track trends with resources like birth defects surveillance, cancer registries and health systems data.

An independent research group suggests sampling water in 720 West Virginia homes for a chemical that spilled into the water supply in January.

Researchers from the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WV TAP, say that number of homes would be "statistically defensible" in determining whether affected households are chemical-free.

The group sampled 10 homes in February for crude MCHM using state taxpayer dollars. Each contained chemical traces, but the concentrations were about 675 times weaker than what federal officials call safe to drink. The report says levels of the chemical have continued to decline since the spill.

Freedom Industries
AP

In a letter to Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, federal health officials say they thought their drinking water standard established after the Elk River chemical spill would have protected West Virginias from other forms of contact. 

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says drinking the contaminated water was the primary exposure they were concerned with when forming their safety threshold. CDC director Thomas Frieden says consumption was associated with the most significant health effects.

As Dave Boucher of The Charleston Daily Mail reports, MCHM--the same chemical involved in a January spill that tainted the water supply of some 300,000 West Virginians--has been found in discharges from three coal prep plants in the state: Delbarton Mining in Mingo County, Wolfrun Mining in Barbour County, and Marfork Coal near the border of Boone and Raleigh counties.

Freedom Industries
AP

  Months after a chemical spilled into 300,000 West Virginians' water source, federal officials want to determine at what level people can safely breathe the chemical's fumes.

Over the next few months, the Environmental Protection Agency will work on detecting crude MCHM in the air and creating a safety standard for inhaling it.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is asking federal health officials for more information about skin contact and inhaling a chemical that spilled in January.

Foo Conner / Flickr

West Virginia American Water said new tests show no signs of MCHM from water filtered through two newly replaced carbon filters.

The company began changing out the 16 activated carbon filters in the Charleston plant on April 1.

In a release this Monday, WVAM said 16 water samples taken throughout the filtration process at that location returned non-detect levels of MCHM.

The results came from Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, Inc. in Lancaster, Pa., which WVAM said is testing the water at the 0.38 parts per billion level.

Freedom Industries
AP

Wastewater containing a chemical that spilled into the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians is heading to Ohio and North Carolina.
 
State Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says Freedom Industries started sending wastewater to an Ohio underground injection control well site this week.
 
The material was vacuumed out of Freedom's tanks and the Elk River. Freedom was storing it at its Nitro facility.
 

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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.
 

Raymond Thompson / WVU

West Virginia University researchers say, in an effort to fulfill their land-grant institution mission of serving communities in the state, they stepped up to begin a research project to study the Elk River Chemical spill. University funds as well as a grant from the National Science Foundation have provided seed money to immediately collect perishable data to conduct this study.

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