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WV American Water To Conduct Tests For MCHM In Distribution System Serving Ona Area

Reported: Mar. 19, 2014 4:23 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 19, 2014 6:35 PM EDT
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ONA, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) -- West Virginia American Water will conduct sampling and testing for the chemical MCHM in the water distribution system serving the Ona area.

The action is being taken due to a licorice odor being reported that is similar to odors in the Charleston area following the spill of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries, according to a news release from the water company. Results from the testing will be posted online here.

“Early Monday morning, a landslip caused two water main breaks along Water Street in Barboursville that drained the Barboursville water storage tank” said Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water. “Following normal response procedures crews opened a 16-inch interconnection between the Huntington and Kanawha Valley systems near Culloden to continue to provide water to approximately 1,500 customers in the Ona area while the Barboursville tank was recovering.”

Over the past two months, during the company’s response to the Freedom Industries spill, the hydrant closest to the valve that opens and closes this interconnection in the Ona area was flushed and tested for MCHM, the release said. Additional flushing occurred multiple times along this main transmission line in the area near the interconnection.

Since Tuesday afternoon, the company has received several dozen complaints in the Ona area related to water odor, which is not uncommon when the flow is reversed in a main line. Some callers have noted a licorice odor.

“Recent expert reports note that the odor threshold for this chemical is very low at 0.15 ppb,” McIntyre said. “However, we recognize that the presence of the odor is not acceptable to our customers and we are taking the action to test the water in order to provide our customers with assurance that water in the distribution system is below the CDC protective level as well as help remove the odor completely.”

Now that both main breaks have been repaired, the water company said the interconnection between the two systems has been closed. Operations have returned to usual in the area. West Virginia American Water will continue to address customer calls related to the water main break and the any odor issues, and is continuing to flush the area as needed, the release said.



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