The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 13, 2014

Western Fayette water not affected by chemical spill

By Steve Keenan
Staff Writer

— Residents and businesses in Montgomery and several surrounding communities served by West Virginia American Water Company aren’t included in the ‘do not use’ order issued by the water company on the heels of a chemical spill Thursday in Charleston.

“Handley, Montgomery, London, Cannelton, Smithers and Hugheston all have good water,” Marshall Murray, operations supervisor overseeing WVAW’s Montgomery plant on the Kanawha River, said Friday. “We’re in good shape.”

Water treated at the Montgomery city plant wasn’t affected, either.

The order was issued for nine counties, including Kanawha and Clay.

WVAW customers in Pratt, Chelyan and the Standard/Gallagher area are among those that are affected, Murray said, because their water comes from the Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant in Charleston, not from Montgomery.

The need for the ‘do not use’ order arose because of a spill of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol from the Freedom Industries plant on the Elk River in Charleston, WVAW officials said. It is not safe, they stress, to use the water for any purpose. Instead, alternative sources of water should be used. Bottled water or water from another, safe source should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, food and baby formula preparation and all other purposes until further notice, according to http://www.amwater.com/wvaw/. The only current acceptable uses of tap water are toilet flushing and firefighting.

For more information, contact WVAW’s customer service center at 1-800-685-8660.

According to the WVAW website, Kanawha County emergency officials — through the assistance of West Virginia American Water and the National Guard — have obtained water buffaloes and water tankers to assist with the distribution of water to citizens. Citizens will need to take their own containers, plastic bottles, jugs and pitchers to obtain water.

Among the locations available as of Friday morning were Riverside High School, the Glasgow Fire Department and the East Bank Volunteer Fire Department.

For up-to-date information regarding the water advisory or the availability of water at the distribution sites, follow the Kanawha County Office of Emergency Management through the following methods:

- Website at http://www.kanawha.us/oem

- Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KCCEmergencyManagementandFloodplainManagement

- Twitter @KCCDHSEM

Valley High School principal Lee Loy, whose school is located in Smithers near the Fayette-Kanawha line, said the school was largely unaffected. Some teachers were, but they were all at work Friday.

“It’s been running pretty smoothly here,” he said.

He told faculty members who live in affected areas that school facilities are available for their use. “We don’t want them to go without.”

Loy also said he hoped to discuss with Fayette County central office officials the possibility of VHS being utilized as a water filling station or for showers if the need arises, which has been done in past emergencies.

In an unrelated issue, West Virginia American Water Thursday issued a precautionary boil water advisory for customers in Ansted, Victor, Hico, Mossy, Dothan, Gatewood and Lookout.

The advisory followed the extremely cold weather in the region which led to a series of water main breaks, the company said in a news release. These breaks caused water storage tanks to drain. WV American crews were working to repair these leaks as quickly as possible.

Once service is restored, affected customers should boil their water before consumption until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that may be present in the water. Customers are asked to bring water used for drinking, cooking, bathing, showering and brushing teeth to a full boil for a minimum of one minute, then cool before use.

The company also recommends the following steps:

- Throw away beverages and ice cubes if made with tap water;

- Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking;

- Provide pets with boiled water after cooling;

- Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water; most home water filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms;

- Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.

Once the system recovers, WVAW will collect additional water quality samples in the area of the outage.

For more information, contact the company’s customer service center at 1-800-685-8660.



— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com