CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The top health officer in Kanawha and Putnam counties said Wednesday he is not reassured by what is happening in the wake of a major chemical spill that contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 people.

“It’s not comforting when we learn 12 days after a major chemical leak into our drinking water that there is another chemical,” said Dr. Raul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments. “This is not the day after, it’s not the week after, this is 12 days after.  This is not reassuring. This frustrates even the best of us.”

Freedom Industries revealed Tuesday, more than a week after the initial chemical spill, MCHM wasn’t the only chemical that escaped from it storage tank into the Elk River above the West Virginia American Water treatment plant. The chemical PPH was also in the tank.

“As a health officer I have still not been formally informed about this second chemical through proper authorities,” Gupta said. “We don’t know a lot about this chemical either, so that’s a concern. We have a lot of questions at this point.”

Gupta said he was frustrated and angry about the entire response. He said it’s understandable why so many are placing little faith in the condition of their drinking water.

“I am not seeing the level of investigatory work that needs to go in and the level at which the public needs to be informed and kept up to date with a lot of this stuff,” he said. “If you’re skeptical and you are frustrated, we share that frustration.”

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Comments

  • Angela Adkins

    The most disappointing thing of all is the government letting American Water Co set the values for the water. Of course they will say the water is fine... they are losing revenue ! And next is my rant about the water distribution center taken by our Governor when clearly he had seen and been told of the rashes and people coming into the ER. He should of at least left the distribution center open for a least another week. And most of all I will bet the tanks fell under either OSHA or DEP to be inspected.. since it was so close to a water source. Now who is covering that up?

  • Pat Fot

    This post is not a political endorsement. However, when we had the UBB disaster the then Governor was visible and informative with every press conference. The updates were timely and comforting. I, for one, felt so frustrated with the Freedom Industries spill in the Elk River. After 10 days, we now have one official after another passing the buck about who was responsible for what. I want to believe that everyone acted in the best interest of the people. However, few made us feel safe and informed. This is unacceptable. Had this been more serious, I am not sure it could have been handled. The late notice of a problem was inexcusable. I want the chance to protect myself and family when there is a danger. Our leaders let us down. Let's hope that the ensuing investigations give us solid, truthful information that we can learn from.

    • WVWorker

      Yeah. Wasn't he the same Governor that ran to the TV cameras and declared that all of the Sago miners were alive? That sure turned out to be real comforting for the people.
      The lesson all politicians should have learned from Joe after the Sago mine disaster was, if you don't know what you are talking about keep your mouth shut.

      • Shadow

        I would expect this to be your last comment!

  • Dodge

    ?? A water system this BIG with just one water intake from one water source ?????

    • PJ Doyle

      It was the only source left as I understand it. Contaminated water sources in WV are the norm, not the exception in this area unfortunately. Sad and appalling isn't it?

  • Beth Campbell

    I live in Buffalo and I'm extremely skeptical about using our water! We don't really know what is in our water! What is this second chemical? We still don't really know what the first one is! After they put a ban on us for the second time, my skepticism grew! Now...it's over the top! They have ceased giving us water entirely in our area and it should have gone longer down here since we were banned twice!! I got blisers and redness on my hands the first time I touched our "clean" water! We still have a

    • Beth Campbell

      I didn't finish my comment!
      We still have a strong odor so something is in our water! I don't buy it that it was OK to use even with the smell! I am already disabled with a lot of health problems so what will this do to me? So... where do we go from here? How are we going to get water now? Are they going to force us to use it by depriving us of bottled water and bulk water now? At this point we are their guinea pigs or rats! Now they'll find out what it will do to people!

  • Rick Ware

    I'm just wondering why Freedom Industries president and board are not in jail? Does "wanton endangerment" not mean anything? If this was anyone else other than big industry it would be considered an terrorist act and dealt with. To me it isn't far from being that.

  • Terrie McKinney

    I read that the crude MCHM has 6 chemicals in it alone. They are like boosters. I read it they weren't testing for each one of these they wouldn't show up. And now we hear of the PPH chemical. My water feels oily and we are afraid to use it. Since they heard of the second chemical why haven't they told us not to use it again, they don't know much about it either. I heard on TV it was not as lethal as MCHM. But we are being told to use the water.

  • Susan Greene RN BSN

    As a medical professional I feel we need to do something! I feel these people responsible for this should serve jail time. hitting them in the pocket will not solve anything for they will just move to another area to do the same thing, or file bankruptcy and take the coward way out, only to re-establish another company under another name. what can we do to keep people like this out of ruining this beautiful state of ours? its not a matter of politics, it a matter of public health. we all need t stick together on our rights! I push for serious jail time, after all they robbed us of healthy water. wouldnt it not be the same if a terroist came in and poisoned us? Jail time for sure. I see no difference in robbing me or poisoning me. Im not wanting to live here anymore. Im scared for my own health and feel I cant even care for someone who entrust me with their health, if I cant take care of my own.

    • Shadow

      If I was in the medical field, I would be careful of handing out jail time for unexpected problems. Medical Malpractice doesn't just happen by Doctors but by Nurses also. Malpractice is just easier to cover up than a tank leak.

  • Karen

    Amazing. And you wonder why people will not trust the water

  • Bill R.

    People are not as important as money.

  • Clown

    Kent Carper is strangely silent through all of this. That clown never misses an opportunity to get in front of a camera and grandstand.

    I'd hide too if I were him.

  • Tammy Pennington

    as a health official what can you do to get transparency and information to the public and should the water be tested again should we quit using it?

  • Big Deal

    Can he not use his position to do something? Speaking up is not enough. If there are questions, concerns, or uncertainty that remains, people need to know and need to be instructed NOT TO USE THE WATER!

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Profits over people.

    West Virginia: you'll enjoy giving us the business.

  • Maxeer

    ChaChing....exactly...payoffs are why there's no
    investigatory push....soon as the company settles the chapter 11..it's off to greener pastures...

    • WSC

      They file bankruptcy, get the ok for a 5 million dollar loan and shazam , oh by the way,there was another chemical in the tank! I am mad

      • Clown

        WSC is spot on. The timing of telling the public about this new leak is not coincidental.

  • 19WVU76

    “If you’re skeptical and you are frustrated, we share that frustration.”

    Finally, a man of reason and skepticism. I like this Doc.