Officials assure W.Va. chemical spill won't harm Kentuckiana residents

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by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 1:02 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The chemical that spilled into the Elk River last week in Charleston, West Virginia is expected to pass through Louisville in the Ohio River on Friday.

Officials with Louisville Water said there is absolutely no cause for concern. By the time the water reaches Louisville and cycles through the filtration plant, there will be no detectable levels of the chemical, MCHM, in the water.
 
Still, even the thought of chemicals in the water has people running to grab bottled water from the store.

“We did not expect the rush to be this large,” said Camie Popham, the assistant manager at the Valu Market on Bardstown Road.  “We did try our best to plan accordingly by ordering extra…but, I did not expect the rush to be this large.”
 
The bottled water section at the store is almost completely picked over. Popham said they’re restocking the shelves every 20 minutes, and had to put a special order in for water that will arrive Friday morning.

But, officials want to reassure people, the precautions are not necessary.

 “The quality of your drinking water is not going to be compromised by this incident,” said Kelley Dearing Smith, the spokesperson for the water company.
 
Louisville was the first city in the world to use a tunnel and well system as a natural filter. Carbon will also be used to remove any remaining contaminant in the water.

 “Public health is what we do. We are not going to do anything to put this community at risk. We have a very long history of quality and innovation and we stand behind that,” Dearing Smith said.
 
Despite the assurances, some just don’t want to take even the slightest risk.

 “I nurse, I breastfeed, so it can be especially dangerous for her in these kind of situations, so we just have to be careful what I put in my body,” said Georgia Turner, who was shopping for bottled water.
 
The CDC says levels of MCHM below 50 parts per billion do not pose a health risk. By the time the chemical plume reaches Louisville, the MCHM levels will be at 5 to 20
 

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