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USA Students Test West. VA Water; Say It's Still Not Safe

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Environmental engineering graduate students are back at the University of South Alabama after getting some real life hands on experience outside the class room. Their work has gained national attention. The students and their professor spent a week in West Virginia to test the drinking water there. More than 300,000 residents were banned from using tap water due to a chemical leak in the water supply.

West Virginia officials lifted the ban; however, Dr. Andrew Whelton said the water in a lot of homes is still contaminated.

They havent made it out of a response phase. Its a tragedy and there are some parallels that could happen in Mobile, Al if there's some type of chemical spill to miles upstream of Mobile's only drinking water supply, said Whelton.

As the controversy brews over the safety of a proposed crude oil pipeline through the water shed. Talks sparked about a catastrophic scenario in the event of a spill or contamination of Mobiles water supply.

USAs Dr. Andrew Whelton and a team of graduate students went to West Virginia to see an example of real life disaster first hand.

The thing I first noticed as did get up there, was there was a no use ordinance in our hotel, said graduate student Jeff Gill.

Whelton and students visited homes to help people flush their system safely.
The group also sampled water in toilets, near filters, and pipes. All were contaminated according to Whelton.
He fears not properly flushing the system leads to more contamination.

To my knowledge the people who are responding to this are not testing people's drinking water inside people's houses and that is where the exposure is happening, said Whelton.


Even though officials have stated the water is safe, they advise pregnant women and young children to not drink the tap water.

Whelton believes what has happened in West Virginia could happen in Mobile if the water supply is not protected.

To see results of the testing and learn more about the students trip, click here.

 
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