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Water Company Says Testing Of MCHM Shows Non-Detectable Or Extremely Low Levels

Reported: Jan. 27, 2014 5:31 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 27, 2014 5:38 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- West Virginia American Water officials announced Monday that ongoing around-the-clock flushing, sampling and testing has resulted in non-detectable or extremely low levels of MCHM in samples gathered systematically through the Kanawha Valley water distribution system.

Analysis of PPH in historic water samples has been under way since this second chemical was disclosed by Freedom Industries on Jan. 21, according to a news release from the water company. More than 2,000 water samples have been collected by the interagency response team since the Jan. 9 chemical spill in the Elk River.

“Through ongoing systematic flushing, sampling and testing, the interagency response team has reached non-detectable levels of MCHM in multiple pressure zones, accounting for approximately 85 percent of our local service area,” West Virginia American President Jeff McIntyre said. “In remaining areas where testing results are above the non-detectable limit, they are still extremely low and only a fraction of the CDC-established 1 ppm health-protective limit. Our team expects that it will take a few more days of persistent flushing and testing before all sample points used throughout the system reflect non-detectable levels.”

McIntyre also said scientists have worked since learning of the second chemical disclosure to determine the level of no detection for PPH and are testing down to the parts per billion level. Even at this minute detection level, only one sample out of dozens of historic samples have shown any trace of PPH, and this sample was taken on a date that all customers were already under the do-not-use order. Testing for both chemicals is conducted through gas chromatography mass spectrometry, which is very effective in identifying a broad range of chemicals, the water company said.

“Drinking water standards are set by very strict federal and state laws and regulations,” McIntyre said. “As a regulated water utility, West Virginia American Water does not and cannot lift advisories such as the CDC’s advisory for pregnant women until testing and the appropriate agencies indicate this is acceptable.”

McIntyre said these determinations come from experts at the Centers of Disease Control and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, with concurrence from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and the federal EPA.

Customers are able to review water sample data on the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website
here

McIntyre reminds customers that as promised, the company is providing residential customers a credit of 1,000 gallons to offset the water used for flushing their home plumbing. This equates to about 10 days of normal water usage for the average residential customer. The credit will be clearly marked on a future bill.

“Details regarding how and when this credit will be applied are still being determined by the company in coordination with the Public Service Commission,” McIntyre said. “We will communicate this with our customers as soon as the process is finalized.”

McIntyre said that the maximum water flow through a standard
residential 5/8-inch meter is 20 gallons per minute. Flushing guidelines provided by the company instructed customers to flush for a total of 25 minutes, which would use, at most, 500 gallons. The water company said the credit being offered accounts for double this amount.



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