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Kanawha County Commissioner Said Now Is Not Time To Place Blame Over Water Crisis

Reported: Jan. 10, 2014 10:31 AM EST
Updated: Jan. 10, 2014 12:47 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said now is not the time to place blame for a chemical leak that has led to a water crisis.

Carper said at a news conference on Friday in Charleston that the priorities right now are taking care of 300,000 people who do not have water and responding to potential health threats.

The commissioner said Metro 911 received 9,000 calls in a four or five-hour period after the leak at Freedom Industries on Barlow Drive. He said four or five people were transported by ambulance.

At 10 p.m. Thursday, the distribution of water to nursing homes and hospitals began, Carper said. He said officials are setting up water distribution sites in the county to provide water to residents.

Carper said now is the time to "take care of your family and if you do have a health issue, call 911."

The commissioner echoed comments from Charleston Mayor Danny Jones who said he just wants to know when the water would be OK to use.

"We'd like to know how long this going to go on," Carper said.

Jones said people want answers.

"The folks out there who go to work every day and are just normal citizens would like to see an end to this," Jones said.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- West Virginia American Water's president described the water company's treatment process as "robust," but he said it was overwhelmed by the chemical leak in the Elk River that led to a massive do-not-use-the-water advisory.

"We are reacting to an event," company President Jeff McIntyre said during a news conference in Charleston on Friday. "It's a spill that happened from an industrial facility upriver. It's not the normal thing we do."

McIntyre said he did not know how much of the chemical got into the distribution system. He said he does not believe it will react to any agents the company currently uses to treat water.

When asked if the company is overwhelmed by the event, he said, "We don't feel helpless. We feel impacted."

McIntyre described the company's staff as water professionals who would deal with the situation.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said Friday that the chemical that leaked into the Elk River and then got into the company's water distribution system will be analyzed by a Army National Guard mobile unit to determine the risk assessment to the water supply.

"We don't know if it's unsafe, but I don't know if it's safe," McIntyre said during a news conference in Charleston.

A chemical leak on Thursday at Freedom Industries on Barlow Drive near Charleston seeped into the Elk River and then into the water company's distribution system. It prompted West Virginia American to issue a do-not-use-water advisory to customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties. The Culloden area of Cabell County also was placed under the advisory.

McIntyre did not give a timeline when customers might be able to use the water again, but he did emphasize that service would not be restored all at once.

"We may be able to put customers back in a zone. I don't think we'll be able to do the system as a whole," he said.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones asked on behalf of all the residents who are at their homes without water or perhaps staying in a hotel, how long it would be before the water could be used.

McIntyre said he realizes that is the big question that he just cannot answer now.

"Once we get analytical, quantitative data, we'll have a better idea of what we are dealing with," he said.

McIntyre also gave a timeline about when the company first learned about the leak leading up to the time the advisory to not use the water was issued. He said the company learned about the leak from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection about noon Thursday. The public learned about the advisory at a news conference at 5:45 p.m. Thursday.



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