(Cincinnati)--Days after a hazardous chemical leaked into the Elk River in West Virginia the chemical has flowed into the Ohio River and the Cincinnati area.
The Chemical known as 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a 48,000-gallon storage tank owned by Freedom Industries, in West Virginia. Investigators believe the leak began on Thursday Jan, 9. and the chemical foaming agent seeped though a one inch hole, in the storage tank and into the River.
The tank is located about a mile upriver from a West Virginia American Water drinking water treatment plant. Nine counties were placed under a State of Emergency when the chemical leak was detected. The counties affected included Kanawha, Cabell, Putnam, Boone, Jackson, Lincoln, Clay, Logan and Roane. Almost 300,000 people could not use their water until sometime on Monday Jan, 13. when the ban was slowly lifted. The smell of licorice in the water was the first indicator that something was wrong with the water, people could not drink, bathe, wash clothes, or cook with the water.
Local stores in West Virginia began running out of bottled water quickly and price gouging in some areas was reported, prompting a hot line to be set up to report the criminal activity.
Lisa Cochran the Communication Coordinator with The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) said the Chemical MCHM was first detected Sunday Jan 12. in the Ohio River.
She adds (ORSANCO) is coordinating with multiple organizations, including Cincinnati Water Works, Northern Kentucky Water, Kentucky Division of Water, US Coast Guard, West Virginia American Water and others to monitor the progress of the spill. "We have field crew members who actually go out and take samples" to determine the concentration of the chemical.
Cincinnati Waterworks is prepared to close their Ohio River water intake valves when the hazardous chemical plume is found. Cochran says "they (Cincinnati Water Works) do plan to shut down when the plume reaches their water intake".
When asked if the chemical poses a safety risk to the environment Cochran said "we are not aware of how this chemical will affect animals or vegetation." She also says ORSANCO "recommends that no one recreate on the Ohio River until the Chemical has passed."
If Cincinnati residents have any questions about their water, they can call Cincinnati Water Works at 513-591-7700.