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WVAW Swaps Out Activated Carbon At Its Treatment Plant

Reported: Apr. 3, 2014 5:46 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kennie Bass) - On the heels of the successful removal of 55,000 pounds of activated carbon, work crews from Calgon Carbon pump in the same amount of new filtering material.

When MCHM from the Freedom Industries chemical spill entered West Virginia American Water's treatment plant, some of the chemical never left.

The activated carbon in one of the plant's final filtering steps absorbed the M-C-H-M. Recent tests at the facility detected the pollutant in trace amounts.

Swapping out old carbon for new should take care of the problem.

"We started replacing and actually putting in the new virgin carbon back in the first filter," Laura Jordan, WVAW Spokesperson said. "We took two out of service this week. It's going in the first one today and will go back in the second one tomorrow."

In the days following the January 9 spill there were calls for the water company to immediately change out its filters. Jordan says the way a treatment plant works didn't allow that to happen until production levels dropped and the weather warmed up. She says the disaster has been a learning experience for the company and its customers.

"For someone who has never visited a water treatment plant, particularly this water treatment plant, they may have in mind that changing a filter is similar to changing out a cartridge in a filter at home," Jordan said. "This is much, much different. Each one looks like a swimming pool, for lack of a better description. There's 55,000 pounds of activated carbon just on the top layer. And it's a very physical process to remove all of that material and replace it with new material. It has to be trucked in."

Once the new carbon is pumped in, it will form a layer 26 inches thick to filter water before its treated with chemicals and pumped to your house.

Jordan said replacing all of the activated carbon in the treatment plant's filters should take about two months.



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