- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
W.Va. officials dispute formaldehyde claim
Question of the Day
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - State officials and a water company strongly disputed a scientist’s claim Wednesday that residents were likely breathing in traces of formaldehyde while showering after the chemical spill, saying the chemical that tainted the water supply only produces the carcinogen at extremely high temperatures.
The dispute between the scientist and the officials underscored the steady stream of sometimes conflicting information that weary West Virginians have had to digest over the past several weeks while seeking certainty that their water is safe.
The crude MCHM that spilled into the water supply on Jan. 9 ultimately can break down into formaldehyde, West Virginia Environmental Quality Board vice-chairman Scott Simonton told a state legislative panel Wednesday. Simonton, who is also an environmental scientist at Marshall University, said the formaldehyde showed up in three water samples at a downtown Charleston restaurant as part of testing funded by a law firm representing businesses that lost money during the spill.
She said Simonton isn’t a part of the interagency team that has been testing water samples. Tierney said her agency is unaware of how Simonton’s study was done, including sampling procedures, protocol and methodology.
“His opinion is personal but speaks in no official capacity,” Tierney said.
Simonton, who holds a Ph.D. in engineering, was appointed by the governor to the board that hears appeals on state water permitting and enforcement decisions. He was first appointed for his first five-year term more than a decade ago by then-Gov. Bob Wise.
Tierney said experts who have been assisting the state said the only way for formaldehyde to come from MCHM is if it were combusted at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
West Virginia American Water called Simonton’s opinion “misleading and irresponsible.”
University of Washington public health dean Dr. Howard Frumkin, an environmental health specialist, suggested that officials use caution when interpreting the results of the water tests that Simonton cited.
“There’s lot of possibilities there,” he said, including the chance that any formaldehyde showing up in tests isn’t a result of the chemical spill.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the chemical can make people who breathe a lot of it feel sick, and it appears to increase cancer risks if inhaled repeatedly.
Initial testing at Vandalia Grille in Charleston showed traces of the chemical in the water — twice at 32 parts per billion and once at 33 parts per billion, Simonton said. The testing took place Jan. 13, the first day some downtown Charleston businesses were able to flush their systems.
Other testing showed no traces of formaldehyde, but samples are still being processed. The testing is funded by Charleston law firm Thompson Barney LLC. The firm is representing businesses suing Freedom Industries for lost profits during the water-use ban.
“I can guarantee that citizens in this valley are, at least in some instances, breathing formaldehyde,” said Simonton.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq