W.Va. school closes after licorice odor present

February 17, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia school closed early Monday because of an odor resembling the chemical that spilled into a regional water system last month.

Grandview Elementary in Kanawha County closed and sent students home at 12:15 p.m. Monday because of the licorice odor, said State Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro. She said some teachers complained about burning eyes and noses.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said no students reported symptoms and that he expected classes to be back in session today.

Two weeks ago, five Kanawha County schools temporarily closed because of the smell. At one school, a student went to the hospital, as did a teacher who fainted.

Officials lifted a ban on using the water almost a month ago, but complaints at schools persist. A Jan. 9 chemical leak contaminated the water supply of 300,000 people for at least four days, and in some cases up to 10.

A state response team has taken water samples and is reflushing the school’s pipes. Cordeiro said another round of sampling will occur after flushing.

Previous tests did not detect the chemical, crude MCHM, in the school’s water.

There were complaints of a slight licorice odor at two other Kanawha schools Monday: Sharon Dawes Elementary and John Adams Middle School. Water samples were taken from both schools, which remained open.

Bottled water for cooking and drinking, and hand sanitizer are still available at schools.



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