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MCHM found in water at 6th school

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Detectable levels of the coal-cleaning chemical Crude MCHM, which contaminated the region's drinking water, have been found at a sixth area school.

In a test taken Wednesday, a water sample from the sink in the cafeteria at H.E. White Elementary in Clay County showed a level of 37 parts per billion of the chemical.

That is well below the 1 part per million level that the federal Centers for Disease Control has said is safe for everyone but pregnant women, but it is above the state's 10 part per billion "non-detect" level.

The test results were posted by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management late Friday night.

School personnel were at the school Saturday to re-flush all the pipes.

"It's concerning," said Danny Brown, assistant superintendent in Clay County. "You're not quite sure what to do or frankly what to believe sometimes.

"We did the same flushing process but basically doubled the times of what the water company advised," Brown said.

For now, school is on for Monday unless other issues arise creating an unsafe environment for students, Brown said.

Bottled water will continue to be used for drinking and cooking at the school and trash bags are draped over all water fountains.

The National Guard will test the school's water again, Brown said. Brown also contacted the Clay County Health Department.

Detectable levels of the chemical had previously been found at George Washington High School, in Charleston; John Adams Middle School, in Charleston; Andrews Heights Elementary School, in Tornado; Lincoln County High School, in Hamlin and Buffalo High School.

All those schools also had levels of the chemical well below the CDC standard. They were re-flushing water lines this weekend and were expected to be open Monday.

Between Tuesday and Friday, the state tested the water at 107 schools in the affected region. As of Saturday afternoon, results were back for 106 of those schools. Every one except the six mentioned showed "non-detect" levels of the chemical.

A test result was not yet available for Yeager Career Center in Lincoln County.Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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