West Virginia –Emergency Water Problem


A chemical spill in the water?      Short term emergency?

The water restrictions were imposed Thursday when it was discovered about 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal — 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — had leaked out of a storage tank located a mile upriver from the water plant.

From what is reported, there is a smell to the water, which would be typical of organic compounds.



It is more than 30,000 people affected, and 9 counties, it is the entire state.

Hospitals, farms, livestock, all affected.

Even parts of Pennsylvania are on alert.

Out of control, or controlled situation?

As the chemical spreads over the top of the water, it should become more dilute, and less dangerous.

So, this should not be an ongoing spill that is out of control.

The spill happened, then stopped. So it should be a controlled situation.

If the situation gets worse and worse, then it is not due to a chemical, but something else.

So we wait and see.


Report raises questions:

All water in the area has been contaminated with the chemical (4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol), a chemical used in the coal industry. This chemical will make a person sick but it is not deadly unless ingested in huge quantity.



It is not supposed to be too toxic (it was introduced as a more benign replacement of 2-ethyl-1-hexanol). It is a greasy oily substance that is very poorly soluble in water and floats on it.

It forms greasy film on water and sticks to greasy substances, like coal dust.

It has low volatility and only a faint licorice odor. It probably lends a funny taste to tap water and I would not drink it. I guess it is on the same level of tox concern as motor oil.

The chemical is used to float impurities out of coal. The flotation process is used for the separation of sulfides, oxides and other carbonates prior to further processing.

The chemical since its lighter than water will carry these impurities up and leave the clean coal at the bottom.

cyclohexanemethanol has an LD50 of 250 mg/kg in mice, so it seems like you’d probably need to ingest quite a bit for toxic effects to occur.


Some facts:

1. This material is only slightly soluble in water, which means that the concentrations in the water will max out in the 3% range. Directly drinking this water, while still not a good idea, will not result in surface burns or respiratory problems. The concentration and vapors are just. not. there.

2. The Rat LD50 on this is 1660 mg/kg. For comparison, the LD50 for table salt is 3,000 mg/kg, and the LD50 of Caffeine is 192 mg/kg. So yea… Don’t go around drinking a lot of it, but unless you’re seeking it out to eat/drink, you’re going to be OK.

3. The tanks in the picture have a berm and a dike wall around them. Both would have had to fail for the water to be contaminated, so something else happened. I still haven’t heard the quantity released yet, but by the response several thousand gallons (which isn’t as much as you think) would have had to breach the containment in order to elicit this type of response.

4. The material is lighter than water, so it’s going to float on top. Should make cleanup easier & faster and dissolution happen faster, but increase the risk of it moving downstream. The half-life in rivers is estimated at ~4 days, as in gone. Not just dissolved away. Gone through a combination of microbacterial digestion, volatilization, and photoracial based degradation.

5. The "Hazards" given are based straight off the MSDS sheet which assumes direct exposure. (eg. splashing the material directly into the eyes or onto the skin, or working with the material at normal handling temperatures: which is why the SDS for water lists a burn potential.) Also, since SDS’s are a legal document EVERY known or suspected hazard is on it. In the SDS world it’s covering any "alleged significant adverse reaction" reported through TSCA.

6. I GUARANTEE you this incident is going to be investigated by OSHA, EPA, NIOSH, and the CSB who will all take this very seriously from an environmental and PHA standpoint. The company will suffer very serious fines for allowing the spill, and given the impact, I would not be at all surprised if they were forced to shut down.



Although there is chemical involved, I do not think the real problem is this chemical….because it is so insoluble in water, I do not see how it presents a real threat to the total water volume, as it separates out from water.

This leaves most of the water beneath it as not contaminated.

If something is really contaminating the water, it has to be more soluble in water than this chemical.

I think this chemical is being blamed for the sicknesses that are being reported, and that it is an excuse to shut down the coal industry in West Virginia.

But this is speculation at this point, so I will just present it, then drop the issue, unless more information can be obtained.


Cleaning up your water

If there is any of this chemical really is in the water, the water beneath the organic layer could be run through a separation column and purified, or by extraction, or by Water Filters with Activated Carbon Cartridges.

So one could collect some water from the faucet, and let it settle out.

Once settled out, take the bottom layer, and put it through a filter.

One can buy a water filter and process one’s own tap water.

You can buy activated carbon water filters at Walmart.

I think all households should have activated charcoal water filters in case of emergencies like this.

Once water is filtered, it should be boiled.

Another option is to just store clean tap water in anticipation of an emergency. Use food grade plastic or clean glass containers.

If you use a large trash can, it is not food grade, so wash it out well with soap and water, then filter the water you get from it with an activated charcoal filter from Walmart.

Emergency preparation should be a modern day activity that everyone should be involved in.

I hope this “spill” situation makes people think and prepare.

Another thing…..if the crops and livestock are destroyed by the lack of water, or by contaminated water,  then this will lead to a food shortage of some sort.


22 Responses to “West Virginia –Emergency Water Problem”

  1. […] here for […]

  2. A Christmas present from Michelle to Barrack.
    How did it get upstream from the tanks?

  3. Here’s possibly another way to improve the water:

  4. First thing that needs investigated is muslim employees….
    Only one way to save the world and that is to outlaw Islam in civilized countries..They plan and have begun their world wide domination and the death of all non muslims.. Hitler pales in comparison..

  5. I sure believe its a “political” issue. Many Politicians do not want coal anymore. Leaving the American people one less way to heat our homes etc. The Government will not stop till every person is dependent upon them. They will rule over Coal and or do away with it. After all it could help people survive in a crisis amen.

    Same with the fertilizer situation. Two big explosions already in America. Then I read a story how China l think it was. Was going into the fertilizer business. Political again –

    They do not want any enter-prize to be owned by independent civilians.
    Just like the Milk industry got laws that cost so much now that a little farmer cannot make it. What kind of a business does not have some kind of laws to be able to operate. Look at the farming community today. Its about Gone. It went to the Biggest farms and they got help from Government. The Government takes care of them. But let them fault and see who takes them over eventually. It will be a Civil matter with the government.


    • Amen lighthouse.
      It’s the democrats btw who are against coal and oil and fracking for natural gas, or doctors, or anything else that we need.
      Cloward and Piven, the communists that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were trained by, they have an adage, Never waste a good crisis. Another theory they work toward is to overwhelm the system until its bankrupt, i.e. Obamacare, welfare. If its bad for the country, they are all for it.

  6. light at the end of the tunnel….


  7. police called in to protect water at walmart


  8. water company did not know how it happened….etc


    • “It was chaos, that’s what it was,” convenience store cashier Danny Cardwell told FoxNews.com.

      Can you imagine what it is going to be like when people have to go five days without food? It will be anarchy!

  9. Are these not the end times; Will we not see more epidemics, AKA swine flue etc? These things are just the tip of what is coming; but take heart Jesus will keep His own and even to death; Ps.48:14For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death! In Christ Jesus there is perfect peace in His love for it too casts our all fear! 1 Jn.4:18; with time being short let us all be found in His harvest fields working, seeding, sowing and reaping His harvest!

  10. how did an above ground storage facility spill chemical into the water?

  11. chemical storage is about 50 ft from the water’s edge….how did it get into the water from the ground 50 ft away?


  12. it is downhill from the containers to the river

  13. http://wqad.com/2014/01/13/west-virginia-chemical-spill-casts-spotlight-on-loose-regulation/

  14. I think this is a dry run for future, not spills but deliberate poisoning of the water in many areas to kill off people for population reduction! Marianne these cold-hearted psychopaths that have no fear of God or any love/concern or respect for their fellow man will do these things&”for the love of money” there are those that will kill many for the “almighty dollar”! This is how money now is becoming the super/ultimate “root of all evil”!

    • ronnie

      I think you are right. I also noticed that just 2 weeks before the “accident,” a new owner took over…..all the years before that, everything was fine.

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