Since re-opening after the water contamination spill on January 9, H.E. White Elementary school has been operating with bottled water for the safety of the students. Nearly a month after the chemical spill in the Elk River, detectable levels of MCHM are still being found in a water sample taken from the rural elementary school. The WV National Guard took a water sample from the school’s cafeteria on Wednesday, which tested at a level of 37 parts per billion of the chemical MCHM. Although the Center for Disease control says the safe level for consumption is 1 part per million, detectable levels are still alarming.
Clay County Assistant Superintendent Danny Brown says “It’s concerning, you’re not quite sure what to do or frankly what to believe sometimes.” Following the recommended protocol after the all clear was given did not effectively clear the system. “We did the same flushing process but basically doubled the times of what the water company advised,” Brown said. The water pipes in the school were re-flushed over the weekend in hopes of removing even more of the chemical. Testing after the second flushing showed MCHM levels dropped to below 10 parts per billion.
H.E. White will continue to operate on a normal schedule, providing students with safe drinking water until further notice. The WV National Guard will also continue to periodically test the water for MCHM. H.E. White Elementary is the sixth school affected by the water crisis that has shown detectable MCHM levels.