WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr

Tomblin Directs Community Conference Call To Address Water Concerns

Reported: Jan. 18, 2014 9:13 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 18, 2014 10:54 PM EST
News Image

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, along Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health Letitia Tierney and Major General James A. Hoyer of the National Guard took part in a community conference call Saturday to address concerns regarding the West Virginia water crisis.

Tomblin’s office provided the following answers to questions submitted by the community:

Are you (Dr. Tierney) using the water?

Initially when I flushed my house, I did not detect any smell. Throughout the next couple of days, I did detect a smell. I have used it for drinking, bathing, and cooking-and as of today, I'm no longer detecting the odor in my home.

Why do I still smell licorice even though I've flushed my water lines?

MCHM has a low odor threshold-meaning you can smell MCHM at 100,000 times the no observable adverse effect level.

Will we continue testing? At what levels?

We will continue testing until the system has been sampled and tested at 1/100 parts per million-a level well below the CDC recommended threshold for public health. The CDC provided information that it believes there is no evidence to suggest that water levels below the laboratory limit of detection of 10 parts per billion (1/100 parts per million) would have adverse health effects, including for pregnant women.

Testing will continue and the Bureau of Public Health Office of Environmental Services will continue to monitor until the sampling throughout the system has reached the 1/100 ppm level.

Why is the water unsafe for pregnant women to drink but considered safe for everyone else to consume?

Doctors routinely advise pregnant women to avoid consuming a number of things-including caffeine, alcohol, raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized dairy products, luncheon meats and hot dogs. Fetal cells are continuing to develop, which is why pregnant women have been encouraged to continue drinking bottled water until there are no longer detectable levels of MCHM in the water distribution system. The CDC provided us the guideline "out of an abundance of caution," just the same as we do for caffeine, alcohol and unpasteurized dairy products.

What is causing the burns/rashes and emergency room visits, if people are using "safe" water?

We've been monitoring everyone who has presented to the hospital, and what they've been complaining of is not a burn like you and I would think of as a burn. Some doctors have described it as a "solar burn" which is similar to a sunburn. Basically, it's red skin. Everyone has different sensitivities and as we move through the flushing process, sediment has been stirred up from your hot water tank and the pipes.

Some sediment may be coming through the shower that you don't even see.

Because everyone has different sensitivities, some may be experiencing this and some may not.

These are topical only. They're short-lived. They are easily treated with over-the-counter products. I would advise anybody who is seeing this type of reaction to speak with your physician. They won't last. Once things settle down, these symptoms will go away.

Can children under three years of age consume the water?

DHHR confirmed the only guidance from the CDC is that "due to limited availability of data, and out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to consider an alternative drinking water source for pregnant women until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system." The CDC provided information that they believe there is no evidence to suggest that water levels below the laboratory limit of detection of 10 parts per billion (1/100 parts per million) would have adverse health effects, including for pregnant women. Children were considered in these guidelines. Short-term exposure at these levels is not likely to cause any adverse health effects for children or others.

Are there known risks associated with this chemical mixing with household cleaners?

No. Household cleaning can continue normally.

Is this water harmful to my pets?

Per the Department of Agriculture's press release: State Veterinarian Dr. Jewell Plumley said Friday afternoon, after continuing to seek consultation and advice from toxicologists and animal experts from across the country, there are no known risks to livestock that may have been exposed to the water.

How has the chemical spill impacted fish and other aquatic life?

DNR is coordinating with all appropriate agencies to monitor any potential impacts to aquatic organisms resulting from this chemical spill. The Wildlife Resources Section has had staff on site and has not observed or received any reports of dead fish at this time.

Will grey water from the affected West Virginia American Water systems have a negative impact on surrounding districts?

(Grey water sewage and flush water) Sewage goes to a treatment plant to be treated. Because Total Organic Carbon is measured and regulated, the treatment plant must notify DEP if unsafe levels of MCHM are present. At this time, there are no reports of unsafe levels. Following treatment, the water is sent into rivers and streams where any MCHM is further diluted into non-detectable levels. In the case of flush water, it is again diluted into non-detectable levels. There is no cause for concern for surrounding water intakes bringing in water at unsafe levels.

Does MCHM adhere or leech into plastics?

MCHM may temporarily adhere to plastic pipelines which could result in a lingering licorice smell for some time. The chemical is such that you can continue to smell it, even at 100,000 times below the no observable adverse effect level.

Are water distribution sites still available? If so, where and for how long?

Water distribution sites are still available and will continue to be available well into next week. In order to determine where and how long these sites will remain in effect, it's important for you to reach out to your county emergency management office. Please note, the counties adjust and change distribution points based on need and availability. To find a water distribution location in your area, contact your local emergency management office or visit www.governor.wv.gov.

Will there be any future legislation presented to protect the integrity of our water?

Gov. Tomblin directed his legal team to work with the DEP to draft legislation to help prevent this type of crisis from happening again and anticipates introducing a bill next week. This legislation will: empower the DEP to implement an above ground storage tank regulatory program; require above ground storage tanks to be constructed and maintained in a safe manner; ensure public water systems have proper contingency plans in place to prepare for emergencies such as this; and requires public notice to affected municipalities, counties and the general public concerning regulated above ground storage tanks. The governor anticipates submitting this legislation to the Senate and House of Delegates early next week. The efforts will be coordinated with legislative leadership as well as West Virginia's Congressional Delegation.

I'm breastfeeding, can I drink the water?

I (Dr. Tierney) understand your concern. This was taken into account concerning the safety factors provided by the CDC. Short-term exposure at these levels is not likely to cause any adverse health effects for children or others. If you are concerned check with your physician, and feel free to use bottled water as this is a personal decision.

I experienced nausea when I flushed my pipes, why is this?

It is important to remember we have old pipes, new pipes, copper pipes and iron pipes-flushing is causing the sediment to be stirred up. Even small amounts of copper can cause people to feel sick to their stomach and can make people vomit.

This will not continue-it is a result of the flushing process.

Why are so many people going to the hospital?

There are a couple of reasons-we're in the middle of flu season and virus season. Many of us haven't been able to consistently wash our hands with soap and water. While the sanitizer is good for cleaning, it isn't great for eliminating a virus. Some people are getting these viruses, as many people do every winter. In addition, a lot of people are getting very anxious. Anxiety is a real diagnosis and it can be really hard on people and its okay to be seen by a health professional to ensure you're okay. The flushing process may have caused the side effects as noted above. Also, the number of people who have been seen in hospitals is a very small number of people as it relates to the affected population. No one has been seriously ill. No one remains hospitalized.

Huntington Fire Ruled Accidental
Jul. 29, 2014 8:32 AM EDT
Huntington's mayor said a weekend fire in a building ...
Full News Story

One Lane Of I-64 Eastbound Traffic Closed After Vehicle Accident
Jul. 29, 2014 8:34 AM EDT
Deputies said one Eastbound lane on Interstate 64 near ...
Full News Story

Police Say Shots Fired In Charleston's East End
Jul. 29, 2014 8:38 AM EDT
Police responded to a call of shots fired near an apartment ...
Full News Story

News WV Man Sentenced To Five Years In Drug Gang Probe
Jul. 29, 2014 8:00 AM EDT
News WV Union PAC Gets $250K Check
Jul. 29, 2014 8:29 AM EDT
News Weekend Tornado Confirmed In WV
Jul. 29, 2014 8:33 AM EDT
News Man Stabbed In Chest In Saint Albans
Jul. 29, 2014 7:48 AM EDT
News Huntington Police Investigating Shooting
Jul. 29, 2014 7:49 AM EDT
News Community Supports Huntington Fire Victims
Jul. 29, 2014 12:09 AM EDT
News Sparking Brakes Triggered Truck Tunnel Fire
Jul. 28, 2014 11:30 PM EDT
News Virginia Court Ruling On Gay Marriage Could Have WV Implications
Jul. 28, 2014 10:32 PM EDT
News Dem Vows To Fight For Coal, GOP Calls Claims "Hypocritical"
Jul. 28, 2014 6:36 PM EDT
News Gunshots Scare Families In Small Hurricane Neighborhood
Jul. 28, 2014 5:56 PM EDT
News Drums Across Tri-State This Evening At Laidley Field
Jul. 28, 2014 6:05 PM EDT
News Man Accused Of Stabbing Girlfriend After She Threw His Meth Into Woods
Jul. 28, 2014 4:54 PM EDT
News Aldi To Open Store At Teays Valley Shopping Center
Jul. 28, 2014 4:54 PM EDT
News Man Accused In Robbery Has Bond Terms Modified
Jul. 28, 2014 4:22 PM EDT
News Ohio Woman Sentenced In WV Embezzlement
Jul. 28, 2014 4:09 PM EDT
News Huntington Museum Hosts Arts And Bots Nature Camp
Jul. 28, 2014 3:39 PM EDT
News Morris Building Tenants Worried About What Comes Next
Jul. 28, 2014 6:00 PM EDT
News Ohio Authorities Say Indictments Could Put Dent In Drug Trafficking Organization
Jul. 28, 2014 2:31 PM EDT
News Advocacy Organization Applauds Federal Court Ruling That Declares Va. Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional
Jul. 28, 2014 3:19 PM EDT
News WV Attorney General $950K Settlement With Three Companies
Jul. 28, 2014 2:20 PM EDT
News Businesses Extend Helping Hand To Employees At Two Restaurants Affected By Huntington Fire
Jul. 28, 2014 2:03 PM EDT
News Dirty Girl Mud Run Says Its Assets Have Been Acquired By Human Movement
Jul. 28, 2014 1:40 PM EDT
News Firefighters Say Morris Building Fire Believed To Be Accidental
Jul. 28, 2014 2:02 PM EDT
News West Virginia American Water To Conduct Public Tour
Jul. 28, 2014 11:58 AM EDT
News Tennant Spoofs White House's Power In New Ad
Jul. 28, 2014 11:10 AM EDT
News Putnam Deputies Locate, Arrest Escapee
Jul. 28, 2014 11:03 AM EDT
News Power Outages Reported In Some WV Areas; Possible Tornado In Ritchie County
Jul. 28, 2014 2:10 PM EDT
News Rock Beats Paper: Study Says Fist Bumps Spread Fewer Bacteria Than Handshakes Or High-Fives
Jul. 28, 2014 10:40 AM EDT
News Human Trafficking Conference Set In Morgantown
Jul. 28, 2014 10:29 AM EDT
News WV Awarded With 23 Litter Control Grants
Jul. 28, 2014 9:37 AM EDT

Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
Freedom Industries pays $11,000 fine in chem spill

A company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply has paid an $11,000 fine for a pair of violations.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Jury recommends death penalty in 1983 rape-murder

A Jefferson County jury has recommended the death penalty for a Louisville man convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1983.
Full Story

Ohio News
Grants approved for innovation in Ohio schools

Ohio officials have approved 37 grant applications involving nearly 200 schools and educational entities from an innovation fund established by Gov. John Kasich .
Full Story

Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site

Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.