Al Evers describes himself as "one of those crazy preppers." That means he's ready for anything. Nuclear fallout, Armageddon, and yes. Even a massive chemical leak that contaminated the drinking supply of nearly 300,000 West Virginians.
"If you don't have a back-up supply of living supports you're at the mercy of others and whatever happens," said Evers, who keeps more than 300 gallons of water in his home.
Evers lives a minute away from the West Virginia American Water treatment plant. Company officials confirmed Tuesday that low levels of 4-MCHM remain inside the facility. That's the chemical that contaminated the Elk River in January.
"I think that's a perfect example of how interdependent we are," Evers said. "We are so dependent on other people for our daily necessities."
The West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, which consists of the independent experts hired by the state, asked WVAW to conduct the testing last week. The request came after the team discovered trace amounts of 4-MCHM inside a home near where water exits the treatment plant in Charleston.
The samples taken exiting the plant registered at .38 parts per billion and .45 parts per billion. On March 21 and 22, multiple samples were collected at various stages before, during and after the water treatment process, officials said.
WVAW sent the water on March 22 to Eurofins Lancaster Laboratory Environmental in Lancaster, Pa. They are one of the two labs that participated in the WVTAP project. The National Guard and other entities unrelated to WVTAP had previously used other labs with lower thresholds for detecting, including a facility in Beaver, WV.
"This new round of sampling and testing demonstrates the ability of laboratories to test and report at levels lower than previous rounds of testing," said Jeff McIntyre, the president of WVAW. "It is not unexpected that MCHM effectively captured in the filter material may show up in trace amounts in water leaving the plant.
McIntyre tells 13 News the company will switch out its 16 filters next week, as well as 500 tons of granular activated carbon used to absorb materials in the facility. WVAW has yet to switch the filters since the chemical leak. Governor Tomblin said the state Bureau of Public Health sent the company a letter, demanding just that; he claims inclement weather caused a delay.
WVAW spokesperson Laura Jordan said the process will take approximately eight weeks.
One drop or one million, other neighbors in the area say they don't care. The idea of chemicals still lingering--two months later--deeply upsets them.
"Honestly I'm expecting the worst," said Jamie Eubanks, of Charleston. "Honestly."
WVTAP will release more test results in a public venue Friday.
Mandi Cardosi contributed to this story.