WVU faculty, including WVWRI director, available to offer commentary on one-year anniversary of Elk River chemical spill

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January 6, 2015 by Diana Mazzella, University Relations/News

Morgantown, W.Va. – With the approach of the one-year anniversary of the Elk River chemical spill this coming Friday, several West Virginia University faculty members are available to discuss the various impacts of the spill, which left approximately 300,000 residents without water for days.

WVU researchers collected samples following the Jan. 9, 2014, chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston, W.Va.

WVU researchers collected samples following the Jan. 9, 2014, chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston, W.Va.  (Photo by Raymond Thompson.)

Some WVU faculty members have expertise that is directly related to the issue and others have been conducting research stemming from the spill or been active in related public policy development.

On Jan. 9 last year, 10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical used in washing coal, leaked into the Elk River from holding tanks. Authorities advised residents in parts of nine West Virginia counties not to use their tap water for anything but flushing toilets. Besides interrupting running water service for days, the spill led to legislation regulating above-ground chemical storage tanks and calling for a study of the long-term health effects following the spill.

WVU faculty members with expertise on various aspects of the spill, its impact and handling, include:

Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute director

Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute director, testified before the WV legislature on the spill.  (Photo by Raymond Thompson.)

  • Emily Corio, a teaching assistant professor in the Reed College of Media, interviewed reporters and editors following the spill to examine the challenges of reporting on a health and safety story of this magnitude. She later presented that information at a conference for a chemical safety program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army. She can be reached via email at Emily.Corio@mail.wvu.edu

-NRCCE-

CONTACT: University Relations/News; 304.293.6997

– See also:  WVUToday

The West Virginia Water Research Institute is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University.