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.

Jennifer Smith/MetroNews

Charleston resident Beth Kerns wears her sentiments about water safety on a T-shirt during Friday’s presentation.

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.

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  • Brian

    "She has little faith in what local leaders have said about the water crisis. . ."

    Local leaders have shown only their scientific ignorance with a half dozen agencies and no final authority on water standards given for MCHM. Nearly as many limits for this chemical were given in as many weeks. Pathetic but understandable.

  • Mtneer001

    I'd tried to move, but who would want to buy a house with bad water.

    Sounds like the water company needs to access river upgstream.

    Shame the local government won't help these people.

  • Robert

    1). Had this chemical not had a smell no one would have ever found out it was in the water and the entire thing would have been swept under the rug.

    2). This chemical is now permanently in the water system at some level. The area served by WVAmW is now a crash test dummy as to the effects this chemical has. I'd be drilling a well ... or moving.