Chemical spill in W.Virginia creates potable water shortage

Environmental Issues
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Jan 13, 2014 Charleston, W.Va– The chemical spillage that occurred on Thursday, 9th Jan 2014 has created a major environmental crisis, with a shortage of potable water. The chemical 4 methyl cyclohexane methanol spilled into the Elk river that supplies potable water to Charleston, which has made the water too toxic for even washing or bathing, not just drinking. Residents now have to depend on bottled water.

The incident is eerily similar to the benzene spillage that occurred a few years ago in the Chinese city of Harbin, which created a major problem and at that time too, the Chinese residents there had to depend on bottled water to drink, bathe and wash. At that time, China’s apparently poor industrial safety standards were blamed, but it seems the situation is similar in the US of A too!Reports about the quantity of chemical spilled into the river  range from 5000 gallons to as much as 7,500 gallons. Surprisingly no action was apparently taken immediately after the spill, until the problems began to be really noticed when residents started complaining of nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Many were rushed to emergency rooms for medical attention.

Schools and businesses in Charleston had to be closed for several days following the incident. The water is still unsafe to use, since  the level of the chemical in the water is still above the limit of  1 ppm set by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

The leak of the chemical occurred at the Freedom Industries facility, a plant that manufactures specialty chemicals for use in mining, steel and cement industries. From local accounts, apparently a storage tank containing the material leaked, although how the spill found its way to the river is not yet clear. Officials from the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will arrive shortly to launch a probe into the incident.