West Virginia using wise precautions in chemical spill, says WVU - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia using wise precautions in chemical spill, says WVU expert

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: East River Mountain Tunnel repairs completed

    UPDATE: East River Mountain Tunnel repairs completed

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:48 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:48:12 GMT
    Officials warn drivers to expect heavy delays Tuesday night and Wednesday night as the Northbound lanes of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel close down for repairs.
    Officials warn drivers to expect heavy delays Tuesday night and Wednesday night as the Northbound lanes of I-77 at the East River Mountain Tunnel close down for repairs.
  • Will parking be an issue for Saints fans as the State Fair of West Virginia comes to town?

    Will parking be an issue for Saints fans as the State Fair of West Virginia comes to town?

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:47 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:47:44 GMT
    Local New Orleans Saints fans continue to watch and enjoy their beloved team as they continue to practice in our area. But as the State Fair of West Virginia grows closer and closer, some are concerned if parking will soon be an issue.
    Local New Orleans Saints fans continue to watch and enjoy their beloved team as they continue to practice in our area. But as the State Fair of West Virginia grows closer and closer, some are concerned if parking will soon be an issue.
  • Man and woman arrested for making meth with babies in the house

    Man and woman arrested for making meth with babies in the house

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:40 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:40:32 GMT
    Deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff's Department arrested two people Monday night, when it was discovered they were making meth with 2 babies in the house. Deputy Horn said the children are 7 and 18 months old.
    Deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff's Department arrested two people Monday night, when it was discovered they were making meth with 2 babies in the house. Deputy Horn said the children are 7 and 18 months old.
  • EducationMore>>

  • Ohio County Schools Appoint First-Ever Vice President

    Ohio County Schools Appoint First-Ever Vice President

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:47 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:47:13 GMT
    A new position was created at the Ohio County School Board Meeting on Tuesday afternoon, after a motion was passed on Monday night. For the first time in school board history, Ohio County has selected a vice president to serve on the board.
    A new position was created at the Ohio County School Board Meeting on Tuesday afternoon, after a motion was passed on Monday night. For the first time in school board history, Ohio County has selected a vice president to serve on the board.
  • Caridi spends a lifetime calling the Mountaineers

    Caridi spends a lifetime calling the Mountaineers

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:00:23 GMT
    This year’s college freshmen have never heard another play-by-play announcer for West Virginia University. All of their lives, Tony Caridi has been calling Mountaineer football and men’s basketball games on the radio.
    This year’s college freshmen have never heard another play-by-play announcer for West Virginia University. All of their lives, Tony Caridi has been calling Mountaineer football and men’s basketball games on the radio.
  • ‘Voice of the Herd’ enters 19th season at MU

    ‘Voice of the Herd’ enters 19th season at MU

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:00:20 GMT
    His first season as play-by-play sportscaster at Marshall University had remarkable results.
    His first season as play-by-play sportscaster at Marshall University had remarkable results.
MORGANTOWN, WV -

 

A West Virginia University researcher is saying state precautions are prudent in light of a declared state emergency following a chemical spill affecting water in southern West Virginia.

The counties of Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane are being advised to use tap water only to flush toilets.

The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is used as a foaming agent to separate coal from rock in washing plants, said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute.

He said that the chemical, which has a molecule of alcohol in its chemical composition, is soluble in water. Its main effect on humans would be that of an irritant to the eyes, skin and lungs.

The amount of chemical released into the Elk River—which he estimated to be about 3,000 gallons—would translate to 41 milligrams per liter in the Elk River and six milligrams per liter in the Kanawha River using data available now.

"Those are pretty low concentrations," he said. "You would have to drink thousands of gallons of that water to get anywhere near a lethal dose."

But the diluted chemical could irritate skin and lungs.

"I think the state has got it right when it says as a precautionary measure not to use the water for anything but flushing the toilet," he said. "You want to avoid skin contact or a shower, which would allow the chemical into your lungs."

WVU is advising students, faculty and staff who may be traveling to the area to use caution.

The WVU Center for Service and Learning is currently exploring opportunities to reach out to the affected areas.

The WVU Charleston Division is in operation and classes are in session. Patients will not be seen except in the Behavioral Medicine/Psychiatry area.

All WVU Extension offices remain open. 

"We are on stand-by to help with any questions related to our services that we can answer," said Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service communications and marketing manager. "Our county agents are often point people. We can help if anyone has questions about treating livestock and other things during this event."

The official State of Emergency web page can be accessed here.