We made the news here in Charleston, WV. It seems that there exists a several-thousand-gallon tank of chemicals used to clean coal (See here for a reddit discussion on it…thoughtful now but reddit often quickly turns wild wild west…so be warned) which is stationed along the river from which all of our water is drawn and processed. The tank developed a leak recently…maybe yesterday and maybe earlier depending on who you hear…which leaked into the river. Of course, that means that the water system pulled it in and ran it through the processing plant in preparation for distribution to everyone.
Water systems are designed to process typical stuff one finds in river water so this extra 5000+ gallons of stuff was not properly removed during the intake process. No one seems to know how to remove it actually, even if it had been detected earlier. That means the entire water system supplied by the water treatment plant was contaminated. More good news…the plant that services Charleston, WV’s Capital and largest city, is the largest system in the state and supplies water to at least 8 surrounding counties leaving 300,000+ people with tainted water.
My family is among those lucky 300,000 so we are following the order to not use the water under any circumstance aside from fire protection (which we have not yet needed, thank goodness). The water company is not at fault here but there are people blaming them for not notifying customers sooner (it took several hours for the entire issue to become apparent). Some folks cannot believe that the water treatment plant didn’t detect the chemical until people complained of a “licorice-like” smell in the air, at their faucets, etc. The water company replied that this was such an unheard of problem and that there was no good protocol to test or clean it and that they cannot possibly test for every potential contaminant. Rather, they are designed to handle typical river-source contaminants. I am not doing it justice but the water company has an excellent answer to the question and is not to blame here at all as far as I am concerned. Instead, the owners of the leaking tank are completely to blame and I hope they find very expensive justice.
Ok, sorry for the rant. Anyhow, people are behaving in all sorts of ways…some nice and some not so much. There were runs on all of the stores for people trying to buy water, ice, drinks last night. The local Sam’s club apparently went through 4200 cases of water in 1.5 hours. Everywhere was wild and the cops were called into most stores to manage the unruly. It makes me thankful that we have some water at the house. Showering is my only real concern and I figure we will make it one way or another to get clean.
I heard that something like 20% of the state’s area is affected by this so we can’t just go to the next town over to get a hotel. They are out of luck too. Restaurants are closed, hospitals are on rationing protocols and stuff generally sucks. Local government and FEMA are (from what I can tell) doing a great job in getting water to people who need it. The big issue, from what I can tell, is that no one knows how to remedy this situation or how long it will take to work through the system/get cleaned/kill us all.
So dear friends, please consider keeping a bit of water for bathing and drinking in your house. This problem hit fast here and may last for a significant time. The unprepared rushed the stores and not all behaved appropriately. I am very thankful we have water stored at the house so we didn’t have to go out amongst all of the people, some of whom were desperate. While the government sources seem to be doing well in passing out water today, I am hoping to avoid those distribution areas as well as crowds have drawn there too. It’s really a matter of how long this lasts though…we shall see!
Ok, that’s all from here. I’d say we’ll keep a light on for you, but you probably shouldn’t visit right now!