National Guard Says Tests Indicate Chemical Diluting

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- During a press conference Friday afternoon, the National Guard reported that tests show the chemical that leaked into the Elk River is diluting.

Adjutant General James Hoyer says tests are taking place every hour to check the chemical composition in the water.

Hoyer says the number has dropped from 2 parts per million to 1.7 parts per million, according to tests from the first two samples that were taken after the leak was reported.

According to the CDC, 1 part per million is an acceptable level, and 0.1 part per million would be the point where there would be no smell or color change.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued a stat of emergency for nine counties Thursday afternoon, including Kanawha, Cabell, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.

A do not use water order was issued to West Virginia American Water customers in parts of those counties.

During a press conference Friday afternoon, Gov. Tomblin said, "At this time, I do not know how long the order will last."

Mike Dorsey with WVDEP says the worst case scenario for the leak is that 5000 gallons leaked from the tank. However, he says that much did not get into the water. He says some was caught in the company's containment wall.

He said you can see the chemical as it goes into the river, then it disappears.

Dorsey says the tank held 45,000 gallons of the chemical.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said, "This discharge of pollutants is unacceptable." He went on to say although the state weathered the derecho and Superstorm Sandy, we have not seen a crisis like this. "We are learning as we go," Tomblin said.

Several agencies are helping West Virginia residents in this crisis, including the WV DEP, DHHR, US Homeland Security, and National Guard. President Barack Obama has approve a federal emergency order for the state.

"Until we receive an all clear, we are focusing efforts on helping the most vulnerable in the hospitals and nursing homes," Tomlin said.

The DHHR and WV National Guard are working on a long term plan to make sure there is adequate food and water.

Gov. Tomblin set up a "Call to Action Drive" Friday afternoon. It will be held until 6:30 p.m. on Kanawha Boulevard in front of the State Capitol. The Gov. Asks residents to bring water, sanitizer, wipes, liquid baby formula, paper plates, plastic utensils, and microwavable meals.

He urges residents not to panic if you are running low on bottled water. Gov. Tomblin says help is on the way and supplies are moving into the area.

Officials say 4-6 people have been admitted to the hospital with symptoms similar to those reported to be caused by the chemical. These people are being kept for observation.

A team has been established to make an After Action Review to determine how agencies can identify and notify quicker during a crisis, and see what worked and what did not.

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