CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Wednesday evening he’s directed his administration to evaluate the options of doing a sampling of home testing in the water emergency counties.

Tomblin’s announcement came following a news conference at the state capitol where he appeared with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and federal EPA concerning what’s been done since the water emergency began Jan. 9.

The governor said after the briefing he was willing to have a sample of homes tested. He said he’s heard from many residents who can still smell MCHM in their systems even though distribution lines show Non-Detect levels of the chemical.

“There’s not a hesitancy to do it but there’s a cost to it,” Tomblin said. “Trying to test 100-thousand customers could be in the tens of millions of dollars. But I would not be adverse to going in with permission and looking at a few sample spots in some of the zones around.”

House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley and House Minority Tim Armstead sent a letter to the governor Wednesday asking for the in-home sampling and called on West Virginia American Water pay for it.

(Read Miley-Armstead letter here)

Tomblin’s team to evaluate the home testing option will include his office, DEP Secretary Randy Huffman, the state Bureau of Public Health, DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Thursday marks four weeks since the leak of Crude MCHM from the Freedom Industries site on the Elk River just upstream from the West Virginia American Water Kanawha Valley Plant in Charleston. The leak forced a Do Not Use water order for several days.

Centers for Disease Control National Center for Environmental Health Dr. Tanja Popovic said at Wednesday’s news conference she believes the water is safe.

“With all of the scientific evidence we have and with everything that numerous people have worked on so far, I can say you can use your water however you like,” Popovic said.

Federal EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said the EPA believes if residents followed the flushing instructions given their homes should be safe.

“We feel it is unlikely that this chemical is bonding to your piping,” Garvin said.

None of the experts were able to say how long the smell would remain in the water.

The shaky public confidence eroded even more Wednesday morning when Kanawha County school officials dismissed students at Riverside High School and Midland Trail Elementary schools early because of a licorice odor that came from flushing. A teacher and a student were taken to the hospital.  State School Superintendent Jim Phares said the flushing occurred because of water line breaks in the area not because of MCHM. Phares asked parents and others to trust the experts.

“It seems like we’ve lost this, but we’ve got to trust each other,” Phares said.

The governor said the concerns residents have are understandable but the state is relying on the best scientific evidence.

“They do not anticipate any adverse health effects,” Tomblin said.

The CDC’s Popovic agreed.

“Based on what we know– it seems unlikely there will long-term effects,” she said.

Both representatives said their agencies would continue to be involved as long as necessary.



bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Jerry Hudson

    Would the CDC sample the water in Morgantown and say it is "safe"?

  • rick

    They will never say it is "safe". They can tell you the egg salad on the Shoney's buffet is safe when it was placed there. They do not know what happened to it on it's way to you. They can tell you the stuff in the water is safe and below the tolerences. I believe the water is safer than it was before the release of the chemical. Those who are degrading the Governor, et al...they did not have to provide you with free water. This was a situation between two private enterprises. In the absence of private industry doing anything the Govt. has to step in and provide help.

  • Chris

    The CDC lady never said the word "safe." She carefully chose her words.

  • jfk

    have they thought about testing the pipes for build up of this stuff?

    • Dave

      There are some people from Alabama doing that very thing.

  • Dave

    When teachers and students get sick and pass out when the water is flushed from a school, the water is NOT safe!!!

    Would they have gotten sick if the water been flushed when it wasn't poisoned?

    I rest my case.

  • Brian

    I, like many West Virginians, don't have much faith in our local, state or federal government on numerous issues. Still, the level of scientific ignorance displayed by journalists at this press conference was overwhelming to the point where the government looks to be the more knowledgeable. Question after question on water issues that simply have not been tested or addressed. It's like the media asking whether a truck full of mangos wrecking in the river would make my kitchen smell like a citrus farm. SCIENCE SIMPLY DOESN'T KNOW YET!!! It hasn't been tested! Can't the media get that through their thick heads? There is no precedence for this, no well established protocol. . .NOTHING. Yet, journalists want to know where they can buy the next ticket for a vacation to planet Mars when there is neither no means of getting there or what to do once there. Hmmm, not a bad analogy since this water contamination is much the same in that there has been no means to get answers or what to do once they get them. Send the journalists back to science class before sending them to ask science questions.

  • Jed

    People are being poisoned and this the best the State can come with? Yes the best and the brightest......will get the hell out of here!

  • H2o

    I had to laugh @ the CDC chemist said they have over 100 workers here. How ironic she said just b/c you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't here. Well I say the same about my water. My family can smell the water and KNOW what we're going through. I guess to sum up my comment. To all those Govt. employees on the stage.. just b/c you don't smell nor see my water you don't know 'jack' about soo many in these 9 counties.

  • jeff wisdom

    that there water

    was the Governor pointing at the water when he said this.

    Is this proper you may ask, yes I grew up with hissen and hern, thessen and those

    • Jed

      Fix Earl Rays TEETH! He looks and acts like a hillbilly. My God will someone talk to him.

      • GraveDigger

        I'm a funeral home director and I offered to let Earl Ray come in and go thru the teeth barrel and find a set of teeth that would fit him but he declined.

      • Cincinnatus

        Is this the best state leader$hip that money can buy?

        You're right, Jed. The best and the brightest leave, but the dull and dimwitted stay and "lead".

  • Gary Karstens

    Helter skelter