Senator smells licorice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senator John Unger told state Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato Friday he smelled the chemical MCHM in his water again Friday morning when he took a shower.

“I started smelling it again. It went away and now it’s back. I don’t know why,” Unger said. 

State Homeland Security Chief Jimmy Gianato says there are many hurdles to clear with possible in-home water testing program.

The senator asked Gianato, during a meeting of the joint committee on Water Resources, what could be done.

Gianato repeated what’s been said before that a very low amount of MCHM can create the licorice-like odor.

Sen. Unger also shared a story about the strong odor in a Kanawha City restaurant.

“It was pretty bad in the bathroom and people were literally complaining that the smell was coming back and was pretty potent,” Unger said. The senator added the restaurant was near state DEP headquarters.

Gianato told the committee work continues on a possible home testing program. He said the governor’s office is exploring the authority to enter a private residence.

“You can’t just walk in to someone’s home and say ‘We want to test your water,'” Gianato said.

The director said other issues in connection with home testing include plumbing and previous flushing activities.

Gianato said there are several questions.

“How do you get a valid statistical analysis that’s going to be acceptable to everyone? How many homes do you sample? What elevations do you sample? There are a lot of those variables that are currently being reviewed,” Gianato said.

Gianato also said Friday:

–a fire hydrant in Boone County is the last area in the entire West Virginia American Water system not to test below the 10 parts-per-billion level. Flushing was taking place Friday.

–the chemical Crude MCHM “was not listed as a toxic chemical on any of the lists of what EPA calls ‘the list of lists’ that would have been on anybody’s radar”

–he traveled with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to three Charleston schools Thursday after an odor of licorice was detected. “We didn’t see any issues in those schools,” Gianato said. “One of the principals told us they had several students who have stomach viruses and strep throat,” Gianato said.


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