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2014 West Virginia Chemical Release


River with Trees Along Its BanksOn January 9, 2014, an estimated 10,000 gallons of an industrial chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), spilled into the Elk River just upstream from the Kanawha County municipal water intake in Charleston, West Virginia. This municipal water system serves nearly 300,000 people whose water was affected by the chemical spill. Due to the uncertainty over the chemical levels in the water supply, the Office of the Governor issued a "Do Not Use" order at 6:00 pm on January 9, 2014. Later that evening, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources contacted CDC about the release and requested assistance to review water sampling data and provide a drinking water screening level for MCHM.

On January 21, 2014, the manufacturer reported that another material was part of the chemical release that occurred on January 9, 2014. This material has been identified as a proprietary mixture primarily composed of propylene glycol phenyl ether (PPH) and dipropylene glycol phenyl ether (DiPPH). It was in the same tank and entered the water system at the same time as the MCHM. This mixture represented a relatively small percentage (approximately 7.3% by weight) of the total amount in the tank.

Findings of Emergency Department Record Review Released – 4/23/2014

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health released results from the medical chart review of patients who presented themselves to 10 area hospital emergency departments in the 9 counties affected by the Elk River chemical spill between January 9 and 23, 2014.  

West Virginia Water Update – 3/3/2014

CDC has stated previously that there is no evidence to indicate that MCHM levels below the laboratory limit of detection of 10 ppb would result in any adverse health effects for any segment of the population ... including pregnant women. The recently released laboratory results which have tested water samples at an even lower limit of detection (of 2 ppb) continue to confirm that the water system is at non-detect levels. These findings are consistent with our earlier recommendations and conclusions: Based on the water sampling data indicating that MCHM has been cleared from the system, CDC believes that the water is safe for consumption for all users ... including pregnant women.

Governor lifts State of Emergency – 2/28/2014

On February 28, 2014, Governor Tomblin lifted the State of Emergency for the water crisis in West Virginia. The state plans to continue dedicating resources to the recovery phase of this incident.

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