Health & Human Services

West Virginia Governor: Drinking the Water Is 'Your Decision'

January 21, 2014
 

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Monday told 300,000 state residents that they should make their own decisions about using water from West Virginia American Water's Elk River plant in the wake of this month's leak of the chemical Crude MCHM.

"It's your decision," the governor told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. "If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water, then use bottled water."

Tomblin emphasized that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the water is safe as long as it contains less than 1 part per million of the coal-cleaning chemical, which leaked into the Elk River from the Freedom Industries tank farm 1.5 miles upstream from the water intake.

Outside public health experts, though, have said the lack of much data on the chemical -- not an unusual situation for most chemicals -- makes it hard to be sure the CDC number is adequately protective, especially for young children.

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