Photo Video
A file photo of the Ohio River Creative Commons user Carl Feldman
Hide Caption
Prev
Crews continue to test Ohio River for chemical Water reserves drop while intake closed Chemical to bring distinct smell to the region Polluted water headed our way
Next

Chemical in Tri-State waters at levels deemed 'safe' by the CDC

a a a a
Share this story
Show Related Headlines
Related Articles
Experts: More questions than answers about spill
Chemical leak late to arrive to Tri-State water

CINCINNATI -- A chemical leak from West Virginia is still detectable in Tri-State waters Thursday morning at levels deemed “safe” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) officials said Wednesday the chemical, Crude MCHM or 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, was at levels between 10 and 30 parts per billion (PPB) in raw Ohio River water samples.

Thirty PPB is equal to .03 parts per million (PPM). CDC experts said the chemical is safe at levels below 1 PPM.

“What GCWW is detecting in the raw Ohio River water is well below what the CDC considers safe,” GCWW officials said via email. “The safety of our drinking water is our highest priority. Our water is safe and we are taking precautions to keep it safe.”

As a precautionary measure, GCWW shut down its intakes shortly before midnight Tuesday to reduce risk and protect the water supply from the chemical.

GCWW is currently using water reserves from a plant in Fairfield until officials deem the water safe from the chemical.

"We have about a two to three day supply," GCWW worker Bruce Whitteberry said.

They expect the spill to pass within the next 24 to 48 hours.

But Whitteberry said if reserves run too low before the spill passes, GCWW "may open them."

The chemical was first detected in the region Tuesday before midnight in samples taken at the Meldahl Dam, which is about 25 miles upstream of Cincinnati’s Richard Miller Treatment Plant. The chemical was detected at the plant at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Northern Kentucky Water District told WCPO's Brian Yocono Thursday that water sampling continues every hour and recent samples still show traces of the chemicals.

They also said the presence of the chemical has dropped and continues to drop but the plume of contamination stretches 80 miles and it could take another 24 hours until all of the chemical passes the area.

RELATED: Read a full breakdown of the chemical leak and what local experts have to say

Experts said residents don’t need to see the pollution to know it’s there: They can smell it. It has a distinct licorice smell.

"We have asked the people at the locks and dams to report to us when they smell it,” said Jerry Schulte of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission Tuesday. “(In Maysville), they smelled it at 5 a.m."

Experts are working closely with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) to track the spill and conduct ongoing water sampling analysis.

Crude MCHM, which few scientists were familiar with before the discovery of the spill last week, cleans impurities like sulfur and other pollutants from coal during its processing. Its leak left hundreds of thousands of West Virginians without tap water and with lots of unanswered questions.

When the chemical arrived in the Cincinnati area, it traveled more than 200 miles.

WCPO's Scott Wegener contributed to this report

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Local News
MAP: Find a fish fry near you
MAP: Find a fish fry near you

The Lenten season has begun and we've compiled a list of the most popular fish fry locations in the Tri-State 

HalfCut: New craft beer café opens in OTR
HalfCut: New craft beer café opens in OTR

Starting Friday, craft beer aficionados will have a new spot in Over-the-Rhine to call home.

Scariest ride may be getting to Kings Island
Scariest ride may be getting to Kings Island

The intersection that feeds thrill seekers into Kings Island is among top crash sites in the county, a WCPO analysis found.

7 signs Lent is almost over
7 signs Lent is almost over

Sick of a certain Friday evening meal? Seeing tropical greenery around time? All good things must come to an end--even Lent. Here are the signs.

7 signs it's spring in the Tri-State
7 signs it's spring in the Tri-State

It's officially spring, so you know what that means.

Fairfield teacher's racial comment ends his job
Fairfield teacher's racial comment ends his job

The Fairfield City School District reached the decision Thursday evening to terminate a teacher's contract, after his racial comment…

Family 'prays steps' to show love of their son
Family 'prays steps' to show love of their son

Maria and Christi O’Brien, a faith-filled couple from Morrow, plan to carry their health-challenged young son up the 98 steps at…

Cincinnati Works helps the poor help themselves
Cincinnati Works helps the poor help themselves

At a time when Cincinnati's economic fortunes are on the rise, too many of its residents are being left behind. Cincinnati Works is there…

High-speed police chase ends in man's bedroom
High-speed police chase ends in man's bedroom

A high-speed police chase began on I-275, after a man stole a car from Dayton, Ky., and drove to Union Township, crashing into the bedroom of…

Nationally-praised pizza coming to Cincinnati
Nationally-praised pizza coming to Cincinnati

The Queen City is about to be delivered an award-winning slice of pizza.