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In Charleston, questions swirl over ‘safe’ water

CHARLESTON – Cagney Holbrook said she doesn’t know what it would take for her to drink and cook with her tap water again.

She said months, maybe a year, probably wouldn’t be enough time to restore her trust in the water supply.

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Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (shown in a recent TV interview) says 300,000 state residents should make their own decisions about using water from West Virginia American Water’s Elk River plant following efforts to clean the water after a Jan. 9 leak of Crude MCHM. “It’s your decision,” the Democrat told reporters during a news conference Monday at the Capitol. “If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water.” Critics say many West Virginians can’t afford to use bottled water.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (shown in a recent TV interview) says 300,000 state residents should make their own decisions about using water from West Virginia American Water’s Elk River plant following efforts to clean the water after a Jan. 9 leak of Crude MCHM. “It’s your decision,” the Democrat told reporters during a news conference Monday at the Capitol.
“If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water.” Critics say many West Virginians can’t afford to use bottled water.

Some residents are still afraid to drink and cook with water from their taps, days after West Virginia American Water officials said everyone affected by the Freedom Industries chemical leak could flush their pipes and resume use.

Water company and state officials say the water is consistently testing below 1 part per million of the chemical, a coal cleaning product known as Crude MCHM.

Holbrook, a Spring Hill resident, was shopping for groceries with her mother, Lisa Holbrook, at the Kroger in South Charleston on Monday.

Lisa Holbrook, of Alum Creek, said she and her daughter each have about 12 cases of water saved. “We won’t need to drink the water for a long time,” she said.

Cagney Holbrook said she’s worried about her daughter being given water when she returns to preschool. She’s going to send her to school with several bottles of water.

Both said their water still carries the licorice odor of the chemical even after flushing their systems several times.

At the Kroger in Kanawha City, several residents stocked up on cases of bottled water to drink and cook with.

Keith K. Bailey, of Malden, said it would take some concrete tests to prove to him that his water is safe. He feels overwhelmed with all the information coming out about the chemical leak, he said. No one has clarified for him how harmful the chemical is, he said.

“Some people say one thing, and then I hear something else,” Bailey said. “Who’s telling the truth? I don’t want to be their guinea pig to find out.”

Barbara Beane, of Kanawha City, said her water no longer smells, but that’s not enough to rest her fears because when she sees the water, she’s reminded of the smell. She bought two cases of water to bathe and cook with.

“I never particularly trusted the water to begin with, so this just reconfirms my fears,” Beane said.

Barbra Scott, of Belle, said she wouldn’t give the water to her dogs and cat. She wants better information from government officials before she feels safe to drink with it again.

At the Foodland in Kanawha City, employee Jeremy Smith helped Phyllis Morris load cases of water into her SUV.

Smith said it took some time for him to touch the water, but he won’t think about drinking it yet. Morris, of Campbells Creek, agreed but said she won’t touch it.

A month’s time might be enough to restore her faith, she said. For now, she’s bought several rain barrels and takes showers with rainwater.

“I won’t give it to my Chihuahua either,” Morris said.

– This article appears with the permission of The Charleston Gazette

 

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