CDC says water is safe to drink - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

CDC says water is appropriate to use

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Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office hosted another press conference Feb. 5 to update the public on the Jan. 9 chemical spill.

Dr. Tanja Popovic, current director for the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said the CDC is recommending the water is appropriate to use in any form.

She said the CDC was called the night of the spill for recommendations.

"It seems unlikely there will be any long-term effects," Popovic said. "Even those who were hospitalized were patients with underlying conditions."

Popovic said the initial calculations of screening levels took into account a protection for the vulnerable population including pregnant women. 

"There are no studies on humans for this substance," Popovic said.

She said because the data is not available, the CDC took more than enough precaution by putting a blanket of protection at one part per million.

Tomblin's office recommended his team of experts test the water at ten parts per billion, to emphasis the chemical was not remotely present in the water.

Shawn Garvin, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic Region, said levels of the crude MCHM are below hazardous levels including if the smell is coming through individual residences.

Garvin said the EPA is in the process of investigating the leak, including the question of whether or not the chemical is bonding to pipes.

Many members of the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates attended the media conference along with several key officials who have been providing information in the wake of the chemical spill, including Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the Kanwaha-Charleston Health Department, who spoke in a legislative committee meeting Wednesday morning.

In the morning meeting, Gupta said he is not drinking the water and does not have plans to. However, Tomblin said during the press conference he and his office staff members are consuming the water and using it for all their needs, including drinking.

The CDC representative who attended the press conference said all studies done up until this point would point to the fact the water is safe for all 300,000 residents in the affected area to use.