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.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads