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UPDATE: WVAW says MCHM levels below recommended 'safe'

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy of West Virginia American Water Courtesy of West Virginia American Water


West Virginia American Water released findings from water testing just after 1 p.m. March 25, showing MCHM levels below those recommended.

According to WVAW, results from testing water exiting the treatment plant came back below 1 part per billion.

Those samples were sent to the lab, coming back with MCHM levels between .38 parts per billion and .45 parts per billion.

"All new results are so low that they are considered estimates by the laboratory because they are too low to be quantified," a news release from WVAW said. 

The water company said previous test results have consistently shown water leaving the plant to be below two parts per billion since this reporting level became available in mid-February.

"This new round of sampling and testing demonstrates the ability of laboratories to test and report at levels lower than previous rounds of testing," said Jeff McIntyre, president of WVAW. "It is not unexpected that MCHM effectively captured in the filter material may show up in trace amounts in water leaving the plant.

"As we committed to our customers, we will be changing out nearly 500 tons of Granular Activated Carbon in our plant's 16 filters as soon as operational conditionals allow."

McIntyre said those conditions should mean the water company can begin that procedure next week.

On March 21 and 22, multiple samples were collected at various stages before, during and after the water treatment process, officials said.

Those included raw water from the Elk River, settled water and filtered water.

Seven sets of samples were taken two hours apart at six different points, making a total of 42 samples, the water company said.

Original Story, noon March 25:

The independent team of WVTAP (West Virginia Testing Assessment Project) said they discovered a potential source of crude MCHM within the West Virginia American Water Treatment plant.

The team assembled the West Virginia National Guard on March 18 for help in collecting water samples in the Elk River, just downstream of the Freedom Industries spill site from January 9. 

Those results, received on March 21 by WVTAP, showed crude MCHM was not present in either the river or the water entering the treatment plant. 

They tested the water at a level of .5 parts per billion or greater.

Read about the findings HERE.

Those testing results,  however, did reveal that crude MCHM was present in one of the homes of the first customers at a level of less than 1 part per billion but greater than .5 parts per billion.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had previously requested all teams test the water at 1 part per billion to determine a safe level, opposite of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended "safe" level of 1 part per million.

Tomblin also requested in mid February all schools in the nine county affected area be tested at 2 parts per billion to be cleared and deemed to have "safe" drinking water.

Finding the water in a home implied to the WVTAP team that there could be a source of MCHM coming from the water treatment facility.

The levels of MCHM found in the home, however, were less than both the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources 10 parts per billion recommended screening level and the CDC's now 1,000 parts per billion screening level.

Based on the March 21 finding, additional samples were taken in order to understand the source.

The WVTAP team contacted WVAW to suggest they begin sampling within the treatment plant.

According to the team, WVAW intends to release their results of those sampling tests on March 25.

WVAW sent the water on March 22 to Eurofins Lancaster Laboratory Environmental in Lancaster, Pa. They are one of the two labs that participated in the WVTAP project.

Laura Jordan, spokeswoman for WVAW, said the water company would release the results of the tests in the afternoon on March 25.