Eastman Chemical Releases Studies on Crude MCHM

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The safety standard being set to test water in the ongoing water crisis in West Virginia is one part per million.

Dr. Michael Castellani, the chair of Marshall University's Chemistry Department, puts that in perspective everyone can understand.

"Basically, that means one drop for every 13 gallons," Castellani said.

West Virginia American Water has been using that standard in testing to give the OK for people to flush their systems.

Water restrictions were imposed Thursday, Jan. 9, after it was discovered about 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), a chemical used to clean coal, had leaked out of a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries and into the Elk River in Charleston, W.Va.

Freedom Industries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday afternoon. Later Friday, a state DEP spokesman said a company's bankruptcy status does not absolve it of its environmental remediation obligations.

The dean of the School of Science and its chair sent a letter to West Virginia Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, who is chair of the Health and Human Services Committee.

That letter states in part, "Given the important health information, we feel great care should be used in recommending ingestion of water with readily detectable concentrations of the chemical."

"It comes down to people's sense of personal risk and if they're willing to take that risk," Castellani said. "West Virginia American says it's safe. I don't know that they're wrong, I don't know that they're right, but I don't know that they're wrong."

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