LOGAN, W.Va. — On Jan. 9, 2014, a spill above-ground storage tanks holding the chemical crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) failed and leaked into the Elk River.
The chemical is commonly used to remove impurities that cause pollution from coal before it is combusted at power plants.
In all, it is estimated around 7,500 gallons of MCHM leaked into the Elk River
The site of the leak was downstream to West Virginia American Water company’s water intake on the Elk and soon the water system for around 300,000 West Virginians became unusable.
Customers of West Virginia American Water in Logan, Boone, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Putnam and Roane counties were affected.
Following the spill, tighter regulations for above ground storage tanks and requirements for emergency plans for water systems using surface water across the state were put in the place by the state government.
During an interview with the Logan Banner, William Baisden with the Logan County Public Service District (PSD), explained a group of outside engineers were recently brought into the county to assess the PSD’s water system and aid the group in producing a source water protection plan.
“The Guyandotte River is the source for all of our water,” noted Baisden. “There’s not a whole lot we would be able to do about changing the source water — there’s just no other source available.”
Baisden explained the source water protection plan will contain plans for efficient communication and involvement of separate government and private entities like utility personnel, government officials, first responders and community leaders.
The engineering firm who conducted assessments on the PSD’s surface water systems will present their findings along with the source water protection plan at the PSD’s board meeting to be held June 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the PSD located at 41 Armory Road, Logan, WV 25601.
Anyone seeking more information about the meeting can contact the PSD at 340-946-2641.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]