Education Environment

Illness at W. Virginia School Reported 3 Days Before Shutdown


According to the Charleston Gazette, West Virginia officials knew contaminated water was sickening the staff at a local elementary school three days before anything was done about it.

The Gazette reports that state officials were notified of the problem on February 2nd, but the school wasn’t closed until halfway through the day on February 5th.

On Feb. 5, a Wednesday, students at Midland Trail and Riverside High School, both in the Belle area, were sent home after several people reported that they felt nauseous and dizzy, and there were widespread complaints of a strong licorice odor associated with Crude MCHM, the chemical that leaked from a Freedom Industries tank farm into the Elk River and contaminated the region’s drinking water in early January.

A Riverside teacher fainted and was taken to the hospital, along with a student. There were additional complaints of burning eyes and noses and lightheadedness. Both schools also were closed on
Feb. 6.

And that’s not all.

According to the report, the school water system was being flushed while students were in school.

But flushing didn’t happen until the morning of Feb. 5, after kids had been in the schools for two days. Flushing was still going on as students arrived at school Feb. 5, kicking up the odors that many have blamed for the illnesses reported that day.

West Virginia American Water was doing its own flushing of a large tank in Belle the night of Feb. 4 and throughout the next day, which interfered with the school’s flushing.

Laura Jordan, a water company spokeswoman, said the schools should not have been flushing their pipes that Wednesday morning.

Parents in West Virginia would have every reason to be terrified of sending their kids to school knowing the level of incompetence and miscommunication on display.

  • j hentai

    they should be made drink the tainted water, allowed to get sick, allow to recover then repeat ad nauseum (pun intended) and see how they enjoy it

  • fry1laurie

    Time to take out the trash, West Virginians.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Does this all get written off as typical bureaucratic mis-communications and lethargy? (The consequences of the problem weren’t understood by the people to whom it was reported, and it took time to get Form 27/B circulated to the people with authority to close the school, blah blah etc.)

    Because it seems like there should be something criminally prosecutable in there. If officials knew the school was on fire but didn’t call the fire department for two days, there’s got to be a reckless disregard for the lives of the kids.

    In a Law & Order world someone would be arrested in the second act.

  • IrishGrrrl

    What did I say a couple of weeks ago? The minute I heard about the leak my kids, or at least my youngest who has no decision making capabilities, wouldn’t have been going to school. I’d have zero confidence that school officials would do the right thing in a timely fashion.