CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Water testing along the Elk River and at the Kanawha Valley Water treatment plant showed no traces of crude MCHM on Friday morning, according to a West Virginia American Water spokesperson.
“Everything has shown non-detect (levels),” reported Laura Jordan on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Water samples were collected for testing at two locations Thursday after an inspector with the state Department of Environmental Protection noticed a sump pump for a wastewater collection trench was not running at the Freedom Industries location in Charleston. That was the site of the Jan. 9 chemical spill that leaked methylcyclohexanemethanol and contaminated tap water for 300,000 people in nine counties.
Kelley Gillenwater, state DEP spokesperson, said a float attached to the pump was set too high and, because of that, the float was not activating the pump properly.
“The trench was overflowing and a trickle of water was actually making its way down the riverbank, into the river,” Gillenwater said. “The inspector had the foresight to immediately go and turn on the pump.”
It was not clear how much wastewater made it into the Elk River. The DEP issued two citations against Freedom by Friday evening in connection with the latest spill.
“Essentially rainwater (is collected there), any liquids, any groundwater, shallow ground pools, any water actually on the site that comes into contact with potentially contaminated soil has been collected in this trench ever since the Jan. 9 spill so that it can pumped to some storage tanks, there on site, and later disposed of or treated,” Gillenwater said.
The overflow happened on the same day WVAWC announced completion of a massive effort to replace the 16 carbon filters at the Kanawha Valley treatment plant.
“I know that was an announcement people had been waiting on since we began the project on April 1,” Jordan said. “This overflow at the Freedom site has kind of overshadowed that announcement.”
The Freedom site has faced intense scrutiny since the Jan. 9 spill.
“We want to be as transparent as possible with all spills, but because there is a heightened sensitivity and heightened scrutiny of the Freedom spill site,” Gillenwater said. “Obviously, this is something that we wanted to get out there as soon as possible.
“We wanted to provide as much information as possible just so the public would be aware of everything that was going on.”