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.

Jennifer Smith/MetroNews

The line was long at Crossings Mall in Elkview Monday as Kanawha County residents lined up to get more free bottled water, even after Do Not Use order has been lifted.

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.

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  • Pure Water Warrior

    The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), and the American Red Cross published a document titled “Food and Water in an Emergency“; it recommends only three ways to purify water during an emergency – boiling, chemical disinfection and distillation.

    In fact, the CDC published a document titled “Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use“, and found distillation systems to be one of the most effective methods of drinking water treatment.

    Steam distillation is the only purification method that will consistently provide 99.9% pure water.

  • rick

    No body on here wants the Government to do anything until they need it.

    • Additonally

      And that's the way it should be.

    • GregG

      Yeap, all we hear is less government. If two weeks ago the government said they were going to hire more people and start inspecting businesses like Freedom people would have been screaming. Can you say.....hypocrites?

    • Larry

      That's true, most West Virginians just want the Govt. to make sure they get their welfare and undeserved disability checks.

  • Larry

    I won't even use this water as a carrying agent for crude MCHM in coal washing operations.

    • Serenity Firefly

      Aww, that's cute.

      Never know what fluoride, chlorine, and this week's "mystery chemical" might do to that delicate coal dust.

  • Serenity Firefly

    The water from my tap still smells like this chemical (the one that was so bad that we shouldn't even TOUCH our tap water, remember?).

    So either . . . the chemical is still in the water that WVAWC is sending to me, or my household pipes have been "stained" with it.

    Are you going to fix the water or fix my pipes?

    Flush your system out before you ask us to trust your water. Flush from hydrants, drain tanks, do whatever you need to do. Quit asking us to run your dirty water through our homes to clean it up.

    And by the way, I've flushed multiple times. I've flushed until the water runs cold from outdoor pipes. It still stinks.

    You want us to pay for your water? Clean it up.

    • Larry

      I won't even use the water for applying herbicides or in my trucks radiator.

      • Serenity Firefly

        I agree with you.

        I am hand washing laundry in bottled water.

        This is wearing me out.

  • In da stickes

    This simple headline should destroy the urban myth that West Virginians are inherently stupid. Hello. Is my water safe? Can I trust my government to protect me and my family? Proceed with caution my affected friends.

  • Mike

    I'm overly paranoid, but I've been drinking bottled water for years. Have always been skeptical of the pipes carrying it too. Not always sure about the bottled water either, but I'll take my chances more with it.

    • Point man

      Most bottled water just comes from municipal water supplies, unless it's spring water, which may lead to tooth decay because it's not fluoridated.