Knoxville's water emergency plans in case of chemical spill

WV chemical spill prompts questions about Knoxville's water emergency plans

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Small samplings of water from the Tennessee River are tested every day at KUB in their Quality Laboratory. Small samplings of water from the Tennessee River are tested every day at KUB in their Quality Laboratory.
"So we can optimize treatment and we can look for changing water conditions. That is one way that we protect something from happening like what has happened in West Virginia," said Debbie Ailey with Knoxville Utilities Board. "So we can optimize treatment and we can look for changing water conditions. That is one way that we protect something from happening like what has happened in West Virginia," said Debbie Ailey with Knoxville Utilities Board.
KUB checks for more than 150 contaminants in our water, and say the water quality is currently safe. KUB checks for more than 150 contaminants in our water, and say the water quality is currently safe.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A chemical spill in West Virginia has left thousands without water, and we're on your side with the water emergency plans in our area.

A chemical spill in the coal process leaked from a Freedom Industries plan into the Elk River on Thursday. It tainted the water supply in Charleston and several surrounding counties in West Virginia. On Monday officials started lifting the ban on water usage, meanwhile the company is now under investigation.

Knoxville Emergency Management Agency says, just like any other major accident, crews both local and state-wide would come here to help solve the problem.

Small samplings of water from the Tennessee River are tested every day at KUB in their Quality Laboratory. That's because it's not only our main water source, nearly 30-million gallons goes to homes daily.

"So we can optimize treatment and we can look for changing water conditions. That is one way that we protect something from happening like what has happened in West Virginia," said Debbie Ailey with Knoxville Utilities Board.

But if something does go wrong and a toxic chemical seeps into our water, KUB officials say they have an emergency plan which starts with alerting you and me, then moves swiftly to stop the problem.

"Anything from putting out a boom to prevent some type of contamination coming into the plant to depending on the spell actually shutting the water plant down," added Ailey.

In fact we're told that boom can either absorb or block a toxic chemical.

TDEC, or Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation would make sure the water is up to code and safe enough for us to drink.

Knoxville Emergency Management Agency would open their Emergency Operations Room where firefighters, police officers, health officials, and emergency crews would solve the water crisis.

"To communicate to the public the nature of the threat, what kind of precautions are necessary, the probable duration of the event," said Alan Lawson Director of KEMA.

But what we can learn from the troubling mess in West Virginia is to simply be ready.

"Have some water stored, have some food stored, and have a battery operated radio," added Lawson.

KUB checks for more than 150 contaminants in our water, and say the water quality is currently safe.

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