CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A team monitoring the quality of water in the Charleston water system indicated Saturday they are moving in the right direction, but are still not where they need to be.

Speaking live on MetroNews flag ship station 58-WCHS, State Adjutant General James Hoyer said a joint inter-agency team working on the situation is making progress, but probably not at the pace most are hoping for.

“We are seeing some positive trends,” said Hoyer. “But not numbers to where they need to be.”

The team is made up of the National Guard, Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health and Human Resources, a group of outside experts who have been brought in to assist, and West Virginia American Water Company.

“Those folks are all working together, synergized, to provide the best possible advice as to when we’re able to open the system back up for use,” said Hoyer.


Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was briefed at WVAWC headquarters Saturday. WVAWC President Jeff McIntyre, center, looks on.

They began studying the chemical Crude MCHM Friday which was a virtual unknown in a water treatment scenario Thursday. While the dilution in the water is coming down, it may take a while to get to what is considered a safe level.

He was also uncommitted on when that time would be. He did note bringing down the contamination level is on the first step in what may be a longer process.

“Once we get that number in place, then there are some other things that have to be done within the system to make sure everybody is using acceptable water,” Hoyer said.

The do-not-use advisory for customers on the West Virginia American system in nine counties remained in place Saturday.  A heavy rain and mist shrouded the Kanawha Valley and the odor of licorice hung in the air. The odor has been associated with the chemical which leaked out the tank at Freedom Industries a mile upstream of the Charleston water treatment plant on the Elk River.

“The fact that it’s raining, I”m told is a good thing,” said West Virginia Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. “Because it helps with the dilution.  They are trying to work quickly, but as safely as possible.”

Capito visited the command center where work to attack the problem is underway in Charleston.  She couldn’t offer any timeline on restoration to the 300,000 people impacted by the contamination.

“They did tell me this is a very complicated water system because of our terrain,” she said. “I think we have to be patient.  It could be a while.”

Three days after the spill and with few signs of progress, the patience of some is starting to wear thin.  Many were visiting water collection points in Charleston and surrounding regions to collect drinking water.  Some of the water is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency while fire departments and other organizations offered bulk flows to those who brought their own collection containers.

Hoyer indicated the end of the emergency won’t come immediately, but he said they are preparing for the next step of the recovery.

“We are beginning to finalize the plans that would need to be in place for outlying areas,” Hoyer said.

Once contamination levels at the plant reach acceptable levels, the levels at various points in the water system will also have to be tested and verified. A full flush of the system is also expected. The process could take days and involve bringing service back in zones rather than system wide.

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  • Jason412

    @Roxanna News now is saying WVAW will credit up to 1,000 gallons for flushing the lines. At least they're doing that.

  • Far to the right

    For those that have symptoms, and need medical aid, will this be covered under Obamacare?

  • Mike


    I like to see the most recent DEP inspection report on the particular tank that leaked and for Freedom as a whole. Has anyone asked to see those reports?

  • Bobby Miller

    Informative interview Chris, thanks for keeping us informed as you have done throughout this mess!! You can tell your personal relationships with some of the top officials involved in this is solid, as we heard in this interview! Thanks buddy!!

  • Magic Mike

    Obama sent in a secret CIA team to cause the leak so he could create a crises to shut down all coal mining.

    • Annoyed Citizen

      Yet another right wing nutcase. This is one of those paranoid Tea Partiers who think everything in the world is all part of some secret conspiracy or plot against them. I miss the days when we could simply lock the nut cases up in Weston. It is SOOO much more believable that this was a secret plot than it was sheer negligence by a chemical company. Yeah. Right.

      • Joke

        Can't you tell a joke?

  • Dennis

    The officals don't know how long it will take to declare the water safe. They can only rely on the data from the testing. While they wait for the test results, their main focus will be to keep safe water supplied to the affected areas and try to relieve the anxiety of the affected population as much as possible.

  • cutty77

    I think before wed. next week everything will be fine. I'm washing Clothes tomorrow. I showered yesterday and today. Yesterday i could smell it,and this morning i could smell it,but the smell went away by time i stoped the shower. Did i brush my teeth with it,no i didn't. I kept dipping my brush in Listerine.So its moving on.

  • JT

    WVAW shares some responsibility in this also. The leak happened over an undetermined amount of time yet water officials never caught it. Why were they not monitoring the quality of water being processed thru the plant? And I agree with a previous poster, the people complaining about coal and such should practice what they preach. Simply call the power CO and have your meter removed and service discinected if you're so against it. If you don't then your argument is invalid.

  • Elizabeth

    Are we talking days or weeks? Hoping for just another day or two but fearing this could take weeks for the sediment half life, riverbank soil contamination half life, complicated pipe flushing process to all take place before water safety is restored. How will restaurants and hotels survive if this is the case? What about school? Will it restart soon or will it remain closed for however long this takes?

  • Blaine

    Why not release some water out of Sutton Lake? That would flush the river.

    • Mike Ferrell

      That my friend is a great idea.

  • DJC

    What I read said that this chemical evaporates in the sun, much like alcohol but has about a 7-10 day half life. It also said that it settles into the sediments of streams the expected half life is 30 days. Can we get more info on this please? In any event, I think we are far from the end of it.

  • HOSA


  • roxanna rardon

    Just wondering if and when the problem is fixed, if were gonna have to pay for letting our water run to clean the lines out and emptying our hot water tanks and if our lines and tanks are going to be contaminated and for how long, our water coming from our sink is so stong it will take your breath, were not even flushing our toilets.

    • terri

      they better not cause then I will sue the wvaw. co along with freedom industries

      • Annoyed Citizen

        WVAW is giving everyone a 1,000 gallon credit on their bill to allow folks to flush their hot water tanks and lines.

  • thebob.bob

    The (not so) hidden cost of oil/gas/coal energy. There is no such thing as 'clean' coal. Polluted water from spills and fracking and acid rain is costly to fix.

    Cheap gasoline, natural gas and coal ain't so cheap.

    • Realist

      thebob, If you are truly concerned about a clean environment then disconnect any power going to your home and park your car. Unless you are willing to do this then keep your mouth shut and quit biting the hand that feeds you.

      • Wow


      • Jerry D

        The coal you all constantly keep bitching about is also used to make cars, buildings, cell phones, computers, etc. This chemical is also used in the cleaning process of iron ore and gold..... This release was not from a coal preparation plant, which is how the liberal media is throwing it out...

  • Grenda Hawk

    What has the level come down to? Inquiring minds want to know.