INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Two and a half months after the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River, some residents of the nine impacted counties remain concerned about the safety of their tap water.
Only a handful of people attended Friday morning’s West Virginia Testing Assessment Project hearing at West Virginia State University on the initial results of home water sampling. Ten homes were selected to undergo testing, which examined tap water taken from kitchens and bathrooms between Feb.11-18.
The results show all the homes had levels of MCHM still in their water a month after the crisis, although in small amounts. Family members in four of the 10 homes sought medical treatment for MCHM exposure. And all those who lived in the 10 homes were still drinking bottled water.
Linda Sodaro, who lives in South Charleston, was in the audience at Friday’s hearing.
“I’m not surprised by anything they’re saying. I knew it was still in the water,” she said.
In fact, Sodaro still isn’t using her tap water for anything other than sanitation.
“I’m going to St. Albans once a week to a friend’s house and I get water from her and I put it through a filter.”
Said Beth Kerns of Charleston, who’s still drinking bottled water as well: “We’re part of the experiment!”
She has little faith in what local leaders have said about the water crisis but has a good amount of confidence in the WV TAP team.
“They have no ties to anybody. They have nothing to gain. They can’t be influenced,” she stressed. “So I think we’re going to get the more honest answers here.”
However, she said there wasn’t a lot of new information that came out of the hearing. She expects to hear more in the coming weeks.
Charleston resident Frank Grant said he still has a lot of questions about the safety of the water. However, the numbers and graphs weren’t what gave him the most peace of mind. He got that straight from one of the WV TAP members.
“I did ask Dr. [Andy] Eaton if he is drinking the water and he said, ‘yes.’ That means a lot to me,” said Grant.
According to Sodaro, the one looming question for her wasn’t even touched on during the hearing.
“We don’t know what the long term effects are and they’re not going to be able to tell us.”
While some people have gone back to using the tap water as usual, Sodaro and Kerns said they’re not sure they’ll ever trust it again.