West Virginia chemical spill cuts water for up to 300,000 people
Spill prompts a water ban in nine counties
A growing number of residents in West Virginia are being instructed to avoid using water following a chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston that has prompted a state of emergency in nine counties and could affect as many as 300,000 people.
West Virginia American Water expanded its advisory last night. It posted a warning on its Facebook account that said: "West Virginia American Water has issued a DO NOT USE WATER NOTICE for all West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties."
The company's do-not-use advisory now also includes Cabell County.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency, telling affected residents in those areas not to drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes in the water and to only use it for flushing or for extinguishing fires.
"West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged NOT to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing," Gov. Tomblin said in a statement. "Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools."
Mr Tomblin said his office was working with the National Guard and the state's Office of Emergency Services to provide water and supplies through county emergency services offices as quickly as possible.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston and the Putnam County Health Departments, ordered closed all restaurants, body art parlors and schools that receive water from the West Virginia American Water company.
Schools would be closed on Friday across many counties, including Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Pocahontas, and Putnam, the West Virginia Department of Education said on its website.
The spill originated with Freedom Industries, a Charleston company, according to Laura Jordan, external affairs manager for West Virginia American Water.
It occurred directly above the intake of the Kanawha Valley water treatment plant in Charleston - the largest in West Virginia - and affects 100,000 homes and businesses, or 250,000 to 300,000 people, Ms Jordan said.
"It could be potentially harmful if swallowed and could potentially cause skin and eye irritation," Ms Jordan explained, adding that the water company and state environmental officials were conducting tests on the water.
The company is working with state and federal authorities to provide residents access to bottled water, and water distribution sites will be announced through local media, she added.
There have been reports of stores already selling out of bottled water, with many sharing pictures on social media of empty shelves in shops.
There have been no immediate reports of illnesses from the spill.
State department of education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro says schools in at least five of the counties will be closed today.
Additional reporting by agencies
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...