CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Cooks and custodians at Kanawha City Elementary School started the clean-up process as soon as they received clearance Monday afternoon from West Virginia American Water.

The school sits in Zone 3, one of the first areas approved for flushing in the aftermath of last week’s water contamination by a 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leak.

Tina Mason, the head cook and cafeteria manager at the school, said just about everything in their kitchen had to be flushed and sanitized.

Jennifer Smith/MetroNews

Cooks were called to work Monday but couldn’t begin the flushing process until Tuesday.

“We had to run the trays through, all the pots and pans. We had to clean our ice machine out. We also cleaned our ovens. We had to wipe all of the tables off with bleach water,” she said. “Some things we ran through twice and cleaned with a lot with bleach water so that our kids will be safe.”

Any item cleaned with tap water last Thursday had to be sterilized.

Though Mason and her crew finished up the flushing process Monday evening, she noticed a lingering odor when workers returned to the kitchen Tuesday morning.

“We could still smell the black licorice odor. The more we ran (the water) the lighter the smell got.”

Mason admitted she had a few stressful moments this past weekend thinking about the food they served up on Thursday to the students before they knew anything about the water contamination. On the menu was a lot of items that used water from the tap: hot rolls, green beans and mashed potatoes. Luckily, she said, they haven’t heard of any students negatively impacted by that meal.

Kanawha County schools will be closed again Wednesday.

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  • I say

    This water still isn't safe! Watch how many children end up at the ER after schools are opened.

    I'm all for kids going to school and I think Kanawha County closes them way too often for ridiculous reasons, but the schools need to stay closed until this water doesn't taste and smell like a chemical factory.


      If they end up at the ER it will be because of paranoid parents, not contamination.

      • I say

        Yeah, right. Just like the people showing up with paranoid burns on their skin and paranoid vomitting.