Responding to the Freedom Industries chemical spill
Ken Ward has this article in yesterday’s Gazette. At yesterday’s press conference:
Tomblin dismissed questions about any plans for home testing of tap water, saying there was no way the state or federal government could do such sampling in all 100,000 homes and businesses impacted by the leak.
Asked why the state doesn’t instead do a study that examines a smaller, but representative sample of how MCHM is reacting with home plumbing systems, the governor would say only, “That’s one of those things we can look at doing.”
Tomblin’s comments on home testing echoed statements made Tuesday by EPA and CDC officials in interviews with the Gazette, that the state had no plans for home testing, and the federal government had decided not to press the Tomblin administration on the matter.
But citizens and outside experts have pressed the Tomblin administration on this matter.
CurrentlyRecently, water testing has only happened at fire hydrants, the water treatment plant, and some public buildings. Dr. Andrew Whelton, an engineer from the University of South Alabama who has been testing water and assisting with flushing since the crisis began, has been pushing for in-home testing. Nobody really knows how the six chemicals that spilled (and whatever they’re breaking down into) interact with various types of plumbing. We do know that it is probably difficult to purge hot water tanks of MCHM, according to this video.
“Chemical exposures occur inside homes at kitchen faucets, showers, etc., not at a hydrant,” Whelton said. “Plumbing systems do not operate the same as buried pipe networks. There are clear differences.”
Public pressure seems to have made the difference. Two hours after the news conference, Governor Tomblin announced that his administration had decided to test the water in a representative sample of homes after all.
Tomblin administration officials said Wednesday they would come up with a testing plan to see if Crude MCHM from the Jan. 9 Elk River leak is still inside home plumbing systems in West Virginia.