The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

January 11, 2014

Governor, other officials work to lessen public confusion, panic

CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and an assortment of health and emergency officials addressed the media Friday afternoon in an effort to lessen public confusion and panic following Thursday’s chemical contamination of the Elk River.

The water contamination — which is being unofficially termed as the “West Virginia Water Crisis” — has affected more than 300,000 people across parts of nine southwestern West Virginia counties, including Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane.

Tomblin began the press conference by encouraging all individuals to follow West Virginia American Water “Do Not Use” order until the order is lifted.

“If you live in one of these areas, do not use tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, washing or bathing,” Tomblin said. “At this time I do not know how long the order will last.”

Tomblin asked all West Virginians to check on their friends, families and neighbors — especially those with small children and seniors living in their households. He also urged that anyone experiencing nausea, vomiting, dizziness or irritation of the eyes and skin seek emergency care immediately.

About five people have been admitted to Charleston-area hospitals to be treated for symptoms that could have been caused by contaminated water consumption, but Department of Health and Humane Resources Secretary Karen Bowling stated there were no reports of people in serious or critical condition.

“Yesterday, my DEP took immediate action and warned the company storing the chemical to take immediate action and stop additional flows of the chemical into the Elk River,” Tomblin said. “This discharge of pollutants in unacceptable.”

The chemical — 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM — leaked into the river from a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries Inc., a chemical production plant located about a mile upstream from West Virginia American Water.

Crude MCHM is a frothing agent used to clean coal, however, Tomblin stressed that the coal industry had no hand in the water contamination crisis.

“This is not a coal company incident; this is a chemical company incident,” Tomblin said.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Water and Waste Management issued a cease operations order to Freedom Industries on Friday.

Tomblin emphasized that water and supplies are readily available and national assistance has been mobilized to the affected areas.

The Office of Emergency Management, state Department of Environmental Protection, state DHHR’s Bureau For Public Health and the National Guard are providing disaster assistance, performing health and wellness checks across the area, and collecting, testing and monitoring the water, Tomblin said.

President Obama approved Tomblin’s request to issue a federal emergency declaration to provide critical resources, and county emergency offices have been working around the clock since the crisis began Thursday,

Tomblin added. “We are focusing efforts on helping the most vulnerable — those in the hospitals and in the nursing homes,” Tomblin said.

“If you are low on bottled water, don’t panic, because help is on the way. We are taking every measure to provide water to you. There is no shortage of bottled water.”

“I will direct my general counsel and my director of Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Gen. Hoyer to begin reviewing our emergency response of this incident,” Tomblin said.

“They reviewed both the response to the derecho and Hurricane Sandy, and we’ve learned a lot from those disasters. The past reviews have prepared us well for this situation.

“We can also learn a lot from this particular incident.”

Tomblin encourages all West Virginians in affected areas to contact their local emergency management office for information on active water distribution centers.

Text Only
West Virginia
  • Attorney general reaches $950,000 settlement with three financial groups

    West Virginia’s attorney general has reached a $950,000 settlement with three companies over allegations of antitrust law violations.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman convicted in teen’s slaying moved

    A Monongalia County teenager has been transferred to a state prison to complete her sentence for the slaying of another teenager.
    The Lakin Correctional Center near Point Pleasant said Friday Rachel Shoaf has been booked at the Division of Corrections prison. Shoaf turned 18 last month and had been held in a juvenile facility.

    July 26, 2014

  • Board suspends clinic operator’s license

    A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.

    July 26, 2014

  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVa. man sues GM over wife's death

    A West Virginia man has filed a lawsuit against General Motors Corp., claiming a defective ignition switch in a Chevrolet Cobalt caused a 2006 accident that killed his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Feds commit to health studies on spilled chemical

    After largely dismissing the possibility of long-term health problems, federal officials will conduct more studies on chemicals that spilled into West Virginia’s largest drinking water supply in January.
    In the next two months, federal health officials are also heading back to West Virginia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Park Service assesses impact of W.Va. attractions

    Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

    July 23, 2014

  • This weekend's 'Dirty Girl' race canceled

    Organizers of a Charleston running event that was canceled for this weekend says it won’t issue refunds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Reporter heard truck backfiring, not gunshot

    Similar sounds in different circumstances create different reactions. That is so for WVVA reporter Annie Moore, who last Monday told police someone fired a gun at her while she was shooting file footage in the area of a recent murder.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads