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State of emergency, water ban issued in West Virginia over chemical leak

West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced a state of emergency in nine counties on Thursday, following a chemical spill into the Elk River, prompting a water ban that is reported to impact 300,000 customers.

Local residents are urged not to drink, bathe, or cook with the  water from their taps. Water use has only been permitted for  flushing or fire emergencies.

West Virginia American Water customers in Boone, Lincoln, Cabell,  Kanawha, Jackson, Clay, Logan, Roane and Putnam counties are  included in the state of emergency, according to WSAZ.

“If you are a customer of West Virginia American Water,  please do not drink, bathe, or cook, or do laundry using the  water at this time. Please only use the water for sanitary  reasons like flushing and fire protection,” said a voicemail  from the Kanawha county emergency services received by locals.According to reports, the leak of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, a  chemical used in the froth flotation process during coal washing,  came from a tank at Freedom Industries in Charleston.

So far Freedom Industries had not provided any comment.


The Kanawha Charleston Health Department told WSAZ that daycares,  universities, restaurants, and schools will need to shut down.

West Virginia American Water stated that the leaked material is  hazardous, but is not deadly.The Federal Emergency Management  Agency has been tasked with bringing clean water into the area.


The smell of the contaminated water is reported to be similar to  liquorice, and officials said would likely taste like gas. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said it is not yet known how long it  will take to fix the leak and the state of emergency will be in  place until the water is safe to drink.

Locals are reporting that stores are running out of bottled water  and unverified reports on Twitter describe people fighting over  leftover bottled water.There are several water stations being set up for West Virginia  American Water customers, Kanawha County Department of Homeland  Security and Emergency Management reported.




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