CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company officials—reacting to news from Freedom Industries that a second chemical, PPH, also leaked into the Elk River along with the originally known chemical MCHM—deferred new health-related questions to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The official response from West Virginia American Water:
Today after learning that Freedom Industries identified an additional chemical that was part of the original spill, we met with the interagency team – including the W.Va. Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia American Water and National Guard – and determined that the WVDHHR is best positioned to discuss health-related questions about this chemical. In addition, we have described in detail our water treatment process with state chemical experts, who ascertained that our current treatment process would likely have removed this chemical. We are also testing water samples collected last week to further confirm this and will share those results when available.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin criticized Freedom Industries on Tuesday night for not informing the state sooner that PPH—a mixture of polyglycol ethers—made up about 5 percent of the tank that leaked crude MCHM into the water supply. Subsequent contamination tests focused only on MCHM as health officials sought to proclaim the water safe for consumption and other household usage.
“This is totally unacceptable and Freedom should be held accountable for their actions,” Tomblin said.
Freedom Industries president Gary Southern told the state he wasn’t aware PPH was still being mixed with MCHM, a chemical used to scrub coal.