No Trace Of Other Chemical In Water

CHARLESTON (AP) – Initial tests show no traces of a second chemical that spilled into the water supply for some 300,000 West Virginians.

State officials say there should be no health concerns. They took 30 samples at the Charleston water treatment plant and reviewed past tests for signs of the substance.

Freedom Industries revealed Tuesday that a chemical called “PPH stripped” was mixed with the 7,500 gallons of coal-cleaning agent that seeped into the Elk River on Jan. 9. The spill caused a days-long water-use ban for 300,000 people.

Freedom originally said only the coal-cleaning agent, crude MCHM, was spilled.

The state will test for the substance at better detection limits. Like the first chemical, little is known about the chemical’s toxicity. Federal officials believe it’s less harmful than crude MCHM.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission’s Consumer Advocate Division wants the agency to continue requiring West Virginia American Water to submit quarterly reports on the quality of its service.

A 2011 order issued by the PSC requires the company to submit the reports about its operations, with the final one covering the fourth quarter of 2013. The reports include information about water line breaks, staffing levels, average response times to repair leaks and other service-related metrics.

The Consumer Advocate Division filed a motion with the PSC on Wednesday asking it to continue requiring the quarterly reports until further notice. The motion cites the chemical spill less than 2 miles upstream from the water company’s Charleston treatment plant.

Jackie Roberts, the Consumer Advocate Division’s director, said her concern is not the spill itself but the water company’s response.

“In light of the situation we’re dealing with here at their plant, we thought that they should continue to file those reports,” Roberts said.

West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan said Thursday the emergency response efforts have no bearing on the required quarterly reports.

“None of the metrics relates to any aspect of the Freedom Industries spill or the steps taken by the company as a result of the spill, and the CAD cites no other basis to prolong this docket,” Jordan said. “The company will file a response to the Commission shortly confirming the company’s achievement of meeting or exceeding operational targets in 2013.”