Tainted Drinking Water In West Virginia

Water Pollution: Chemical leak tainted drinking water in West Virginia with substance used to process coal

Jessica Morrison

Questions about the lack of readily available toxicity data for many commercial chemicals came into the spotlight in January after crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) contaminated drinking water for some 300,000 people in the Charleston, W.Va., area. With little known about the human health and environmental effects of the obscure substance used to process coal, the state issued a days-long ban on the use of tap water for drinking and washing. A corroded commercial storage tank leaked thousands of gallons of a liquid containing MCHM into a river just upstream of the municipal water supply intake pipe. Four former executives of the company that owned the tank were indicted in mid-December on federal charges of criminal violations under the Clean Water Act.

Credit: AP

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