An independent expert that has been testing the drinking water in Kanawha County, WV and surrounding counties for crude MCHM said more testing is needed to see if there is residue left in the pipes.
Work continued Wednesday at West Virginia American Water's treatment facility in Charleston, WV to change the carbon in the filters. But customers continue to question if that will that guarantee that the water that comes to their home is free of MCHM.
Andrew Whelton with the University of South Alabama has been deeply involved in the testing process in the weeks since the initial MCHM spill. He is leading the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project otherwise known as WV TAP. He said by changing the carbon in the filters West Virginia American Water is removing the source of the MCHM. But he said without more testing customers can't be certain that MCHM residue is entirely out of the pipes.
"It is understandable that plastics can be exposed to chemical and absorb them," Whelton said. "We don't right now if the chemicals that were spilled in Charleston's drinking water are absorbed by plastics but we are going to figure that out."
Whelton told the State Journal Decision Maker's host Bray Cary that testing should be complete in two months or less. The full interview with Whelton will air Sunday April 6 at 8 a.m.
West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan said West Virginia American Water's massive distribution system is made up of pipes made from several different types of material, depending the year they were installed. Currently upgrades and replacement pipes are generally made from a material called ductile iron or from PVC.
Jordan said large pumps push 28 million gallons of water out of the Charleston, WV treatment facility every day. It then travels through a 1,900 mile long distribution system ending up at household faucets.
Jordan said testing for crude MCHM is conducted on raw water coming into the facility and the finished water that leaves the facility. But the questions remains, could the water be contaminated by MCHM in the pipes between the facility and your home.
"We have no information that indicates to us that this material sticks to pipes," Jordan said.
Jordan said there are no plans at this time to replace any of the system because of crude MCHM. She said any work to replace or upgrade pipes will be projects that were already planned.
West Virginia American Water plans to continue testing the water entering and leaving their facility for crude MCHM until the Freedom Industries site is completely removed.