Residents of a village in Ohio were shocked to discover that their tap water, from the kitchen sinks to the toilet bowls, had turned pinkish-purple overnight on Monday morning. After a pump malfunction distributed approximately 100 pounds of sodium permanganate, a "do not drink" ban was issued in Coal Grove, but then lifted a day later.
The inclusion of such a high percentage of sodium permanganate, which is used by water treatment centers to remove the iron and manganese from water, is not dangerous for humans to consume nor expose to their skin — once it is diluted.
Stephen Burchett, the water treatment plant operator for Coal Grove, told WSAZ that the chemical oxidizes iron and manganese, turning them into larger particles that are filtered out before arriving through the pipes of homes. Once iron remover is added to sodium permanganate, it becomes clear. Typically, just seven pounds of sodium permanganate are used per day, not the released 100 pounds.
According to Burchett, the plant is not monitored 24/7 and the pump malfunctioned at some point on Sunday night.
The water treatment plant flushed its water system numerous times on Monday morning, and will likely cost $1,500 to rectify the accident. Afterward, residents simply had to run their water until the pink water was out of their pipes.
The only lasting damage the chemical wreaked on residents was if they attempted to do a load of laundry with the pink water; however, the treatment plant did offer free iron removal products that will, hopefully, remove the iron stains from any clothing.
Coal Grove Water provided the following statement: “The Water Plant Operator took various samples of water throughout our entire system. These samples were then tested in a lab and have been found to come back below the health risk from the EPA. With these results the advisory has been lifted. Please be advised there may be pockets of the pink water that appear in locations.”
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