Residents in West Virginia have been told that water is safe to drink following a recent chemical spill, but people continue to pour into emergency rooms
By John Vibes
WEST VIRGINIA (INTELLIHUB) — Last week, a chemical mixture used to wash coal called “Crude MCHM” – began leaking into the Elk River in West Virginia, contaminating the water supply used by roughly 300,000 people.
Immediately following the accident, local residents were told not to drink the water, yet many did not get the message and ended up in the emergency room. Soon after, the government made an announcement that the water was safe to drink. Unfortunately, it seems that they were wrong because people continue to pour into emergency rooms, but now there are even more cases of illness than there were before.
According to a recent story by the Charleston Gazette, 411 patients have been treated for chemical-related illnesses at 10 different hospitals between January 9 and January 18. That’s a significant rise when compared to the numbers from just two days before, when 317 people were treated for symptoms connected to chemical exposure.
Do not use” orders began being lifted on January 13, with all counties cleared to resume drinking and using the water by the 18th. As Think Progress noted, about 169 patients were treated and released from local hospitals as of January 12.
“If crude MCHM is truly what leaked, it’s possible that we don’t even know which of this ‘cocktail’ is most harmful. We could have set a threshold based on the wrong one. We may be testing the wrong one,” Evan Hansen, president of Morgantown-based Downstream Strategies, told Think Progress.
“Nobody that I know is ingesting the stuff,” local resident Richard Katz told the Gazette. “Some people are taking showers. Many are not. As for me, personally, I’m not touching this stuff.”