CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A week and a half after Freedom Industries spilled the chemical MCHM into the Elk River West Virginia American Water customers continue to line up to receive free bottled water.
The line at the Elkview distribution location at the Crossings Mall stretched around the parking lot by mid-morning Monday.
Valley Grove Roy Spradling was there filling up gallon jugs. He said he’s willing to take a shower with the water coming from the tap but not drink it. He’s convinced there’s still MCHM in the water.
“If it’s on my skin, I might wash it off but if it’s inside me. It’s a little harder to wash,” he explained.
Robert Dean of Big Chimney also stood in line to fill up several gallon milk jugs. He said the water will be for bathing and cooking. As for drinking, he’s sticking to bottled water. He admitted he tried boiling water from the tap after the Do Not Use Order was lifted.
“Right now when you heat it, the odor is very strong.”
And it’s not just the smell that’s keeping Sybil Ball from Elkview from using tap water.
“Well, my water does not taste good. It has the odor to it and it tastes just like that,” she said.
William Mentz was filling up his containers at the Elkview site. He said he won’t be using the tap water for much until he’s confident the MCHM is gone.
“I’ll wash my hands in it. That’s about all.”
West Virginia American Water lifted the last of the Do Not Use orders back on Friday. The company said the water is safe to drink and that the licorice odor will eventually go away.
But customers like Ball said until she can’t smell or taste the chemical, she won’t be turning on her tap.