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More testing finds no MCHM at 5 schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The coal-cleaning chemical Crude MCHM can no longer be detected in water samples taken at five of the six schools that had shown evidence of the chemical last week.

After the chemical was detected at the six schools, three weeks after the Elk River chemical leak, they all reflushed their pipes and a second round of testing was done.

That second round of testing showed "non-detect," levels of the chemical (meaning there is less than 10 parts per billion of the chemical in the water) at George Washington High School, John Adams Middle School, Andrews Heights Elementary School, Buffalo High School and H.E. White Elementary School.

Test results are still pending at Lincoln County High School, the sixth school that had shown detectable levels of Crude MCHM.

The initial tests on those six schools found Crude MCHM, but at levels far below the federal Center for Disease Control's standard of 1 part per million, which they have said is safe for everyone except pregnant women.

All the schools said they had not been using water for food preparation, that drinking fountains were covered and that hand sanitizer was in every bathroom.

All five schools that were cleared by the second round of testing were retested on either Friday or Saturday. Updated test results were posted Saturday night to the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management website.

The National Guard has now tested 108 schools and career centers in the affected region. As of Sunday evening, initial test results were still pending on Yeager Career Center, in Lincoln County, and Charleston Montessori.

Every other school, other than the ones mentioned, showed "non-detect" levels of the chemical on initial testing done last week.

"I hope these latest results provided by the National Guard will help assure

parents, students and teachers that our schools are safe," West

Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares said in an emailed statement. "The results that are in for the impacted schools meet all standards. As always, student learning and

  • tudent safety are priorities and I must commend our local superintendents
  • for their quick and diligent work with health officials and the National

    Guard."

    Reach David Gutman at david.gutman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.

     


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