CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The independent researchers hired by the state to test the water coming from the Elk River for contamination said they’re playing catch-up. Dr. Andrew Whelton, the lead researcher of the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, told reporters Friday no matter what they find it comes too late.

“This work should have been done 10 years ago, right after September 11 when a lot of the efforts were going into how should we recover our drinking water system that’s become contaminated, what protocol should be in place,” Whelton said. “So 10 years ago this work should have been done.”

However, it wasn’t and now Whelton and his colleague, Jeff Rosen, the president of Corona Environmental Services, say they have limited time to find the answers.

“We need to do this rapidly because the people of West Virginia deserve to have answers,” explained Rosen.

WV TAP team members began collecting water samples the impacted counties Feb. 12 and wrapped up on Feb.19. Two homes in Kanawha County and one each from the rest of the counties, with the exception of Jackson, were tested. Ninety samples were taken from each home. They have now been sent to UCLA to undergo a battery of tests.

“Water samples were collected from kitchen faucets and bathroom tubs, both hot water and cold water,” said Whelton. “We think that’s really important because there’s a lot of questions out there as to do chemical levels differ in hot water to cold water.”

Those results will be back within a week to three. However, the information won’t be immediately posted online to Whelton explained they plan to wait to until they have all the data back and have analyzed it before it will be made public.

Meanwhile, Rosen said the cost of WV TAP has gone beyond the original $650,000 set by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

“At UCLA they have committed three laboratories where graduate students have been working. They’ve taken those laboratories over to make rapid progress on this,” according to Rosen.

Rosen and Whelton have also contacted some of the world’s foremost experts on toxicology to join the project. None of that, said Rosen, comes cheap.

“We have gone back to the governor’s office with a request for an additional $112,000. The purpose of that will be to help with the additional analysis,” explained Rosen.

Whelton said the initial nine home samples will help them create a template to then go into hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes in the impacted counties, to test the tap water and find out if it’s contaminated and how much MCHM is in the water.

Whelton made a promise to those impacted by the water crisis during the press briefing at the state DHHR.

“By the end of this project, which is moving very rapidly, we will have some answers for you,” Whelton promised.


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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.

  • Pure Water Warrior

    Let’s crowd fund a Pure & Secure Water Solution for all the affected schools in West Virginia.

    contact me at (888)995–8058

  • C. F. T.

    Rat.warning, reason smells like Licorice. Who authorized, were completive bids taken and what is the motive? selecting this one and only testing service as THE alleged authority.

  • Jason412

    What costs does $650,000 cover if not the use of laboratories and experts?

    "Whelton said the initial nine home samples will help them create a template to then go into hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes in the impacted counties"

    Will this be covered under the $762,000 already invested? Or will we be paying 762k per 9 homes and planning to test hundreds or thousands?

    Admittedly, I'm not a toxicology expert so I'm not up to date on the current pricing of in home water testing but over $84,000 per home seems a bit, uh.. steep.

    I understand people need to know that their water is safe immediately, but I question if we're going about it in the most efficient way possible.