Update: Latests testing shows no MCHM in newest Elk River spill


Wire and staff reports

A storm water collection trench overflowed at the site of a Charleston company that leaked chemicals into West Virginia’s largest water supply, sending water from the site into the Elk River.

Test results received this morning by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection echo earlier results that could not detect any new chemicals entering the local water treatment plant.

A DEP news release says four samples of water entering the West Virginia American Water Co. treatment facility on the Elk River near the spill site and four samples of treated water showed no detectable levels of MCHM, the chemical with a licorice odor that contaminated the tap water of 300,000 people in early January. The tests used machines that could detect any level of MCHM at or above 2 parts per billion, the news release said.

A “small but undetermined” amount of the runoff entered the Elk River sometime Thursday afternoon. The DEP said it wasn’t immediately clear if the runoff contained MCHM, West Virginia American Water Co. says testing Thursday night of treated and untreated water near the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant detected no evidence of MCHM.

“A total of six samples of raw (river) and treated water taken at the plant at different times before 10 p.m. were tested for MCHM overnight. All results show no detection,” said a news release this morning from West Virginia American Water Co.

The water company had announced earlier in the day it had completed changing the carbon in its 16 filters at plant, a process that took months to complete.

The overflow occurred at Freedom Industries’ Elk River Terminal site.

“A DEP inspector noticed water overflowing from a containment trench at the site of the Freedom Industries cleanup about 5 p.m. on Thursday,” a DEP news release states.

“A sump pump in place to pump overflow to a storage tank at the site had stopped working, and the inspector restarted the pump, which stopped the overflow.”

The water company says it is “constantly monitoring the situation” and is taking precautionary steps. They include additional personnel to monitor untreated water.

Freedom is under multiple federal and state investigations and amid bankruptcy proceedings. The DEP said in a different announcement Thursday demolition of the tanks had been a delayed because attorneys and advisors for Freedom believe it will take a few weeks to obtain the necessary permits.

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