Louisville Water says chemical spill is no threat to area - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville Water says chemical spill is no threat to area

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The Ohio River in at downtown Louisville. The Ohio River in at downtown Louisville.
Kelley Dearing Smith Kelley Dearing Smith
Map showing the path along the Ohio River the chemical will travel. Map showing the path along the Ohio River the chemical will travel.
Water samples undergoing testing at Louisville Water. Water samples undergoing testing at Louisville Water.
The tanks near Charleston, West Virginia where the chemical spill happened. The tanks near Charleston, West Virginia where the chemical spill happened.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The water ban in West Virginia is slowly being lifted after a toxic chemical spill that left several hundred thousand people without water for days. The same chemical has been detected in the Ohio River making its way toward Cincinnati. A lot of Louisville's drinking water comes indirectly from the Ohio. Scientists testing the water here said so far, so good.

"This is not a health concern from a drinking water perspective," said Kelly Dearing Smith, communications director at Louisville Water.

Testing has begun here as a precaution after a toxic chemical spill shutdown the water supply in the Charleston, West Virginia area. About 300,000 residents were left scrambling for bottled water. Now the chemical, 4 methycyclohexane methanol, known as MCHM is making its way down the Ohio River.

"We'll make sure that the valves are shut off during the time that the chemical passes through," said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley during a January 13 press conference.

Cincinnati is planning to shut down its intakes as the spill reaches the area Tuesday night. With Louisville about 100 miles downstream from Cincinnati and 250 miles from where the spill happened, the amount expected to arrive here is small.

"If it gets here at all it would be later in the week, again it would be so diluted at that point that we may not have to do anything," Smith said.

More than 7,000 gallons leaked. Exactly how much of that went into the water no one knows. The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) told WAVE 3 News that they are unsure about the long term effects of MCHM.

Cincinnati officials said samples are being taken along the Ohio River every mile from Ashland, Kentucky to Maysville to find out just how much of the toxin is flowing downstream.

Exposure to the chemical can skin and eye irritation. The company being blamed for the spill isn't sure of the hazards. Their mandated safety data sheet says there is no specific information on MCHM and its toxic effects on humans.

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