Hundreds of people in Coal Grove, Ohio, recently woke up to pink, Pepto Bismol-like water flowing through their faucets. While many were alarmed, authorities assured everyone that the water was safe to drink, but could stain laundry.
On Monday, June 3rd, residents of Coal Grove, a small village in Ohio, were shocked to find that the water flowing through their faucets had turned vibrant pink.
After receiving dozens of calls from alarmed citizens, local authorities issued a statement apologizing for the situation and explaining that the unusual water colouration was the result of a pump malfunction at the water treatment plant which resulted in too much Sodium Permanganate being released into the distribution tank.
They also assured people that the water was safe to drink, as laboratory samples showed that the sodium permanganate levels were below the health risk guidelines of the EPA.
While only about seven pounds of sodium permanganate is used daily, more than 100 pounds of it went into the system in a very short time span, causing the water to turn pink, a water treatment plant operator for Coal Grove told WSAZ. Still, he insisted that even in such large quantity, the chemical was not dangerous.
“No, once it dilutes out, it is not dangerous at all,” Stephen Burchett said.
Sodium permanganate is used to remove the iron and manganese from the water. By oxidizing them, it turns them into larger particles that can be caught by filters, before the water is sent through the pipelines.
The Coal Grove water treatment plant flushed the water system several times on Monday, but they admitted that pockets of pink water could still be running through the pipes, and advised residents to leave the water running until it becomes clear.
“If your residence has pink tinted water, please allow your taps to run to continue flushing your lines. Please avoid doing laundry if you are experiencing any discolouration,” Coal Grove officials advised in a statement.
Despite officials’ assurances that the pink water was safe to consume, most residents said they’d rather stick to bottled water until everything goes back to normal.
“There’s no way I could drink that,” one Coal Grove woman said. “I’d drink the pool water before I drink this.”