West Virginia chemical spill "not a health concern" for Kentuckiana


by Michelle Arnold


Posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 6:54 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A  60-mile plume of chemical-tainted water is making its way down the Ohio river and around 850,000 Louisville Water Company customers could be affected.

“The chemical spill in West Virginia is not a health concern for Louisville Water customers. It's not a health concern,” the Louisville Water Company’s Kelley Dearing-Smith said.

when the spill happened last week—the Louisville Water Company says it instantly began testing the compound MCHM.  Dearing-Smith says the biggest issue may be a difference in taste and odor, but it's not dangerous for drinking.

“People have reported that it kind of tastes like licorice, so that's what we are looking for,” Dearing-Smith said.

Dearing-Smith says the company has been working very closely with Cincinnati because the chemical will arrive there first.

“We deal with these situations a lot. The Ohio River has barge traffic every day. There is always a risk when you're dealing with surface water, of something being in the water,” Dearing-Smith said.

By tomorrow the Louisville Water Company should know when the plume will arrive and how concentrated it will be. When the company finds out they will begin pre-treating the water in the Crescent Hill reservoir with carbon.

“Think of it as carbon in your fridge if you have a carbon filter. Carbon is used very often to absorb odors taste and odors,” Dearing-Smith said.

Officials there say water quality is their top priority. They perform 200 quality tests every day before any water leaves the plant.

The contaminated water is expected to arrive in Kentuckiana by Friday morning.

Monday Cincinnati’s mayor informed the public the city will shut down two river water intake valves when the spill arrives there.