300K in W. Va Remain in No-Water Misery

Feds shipping in supplies after massive chemical leak into river
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2014 5:54 AM CST
300K in W. Va Remain in No-Water Misery
People wait in line for water from a tanker truck in Charleston, W.Va.   (AP Photo/The Daily Mail, Craig Cunningham)

About 300,000 residents of West Virginia will have to get through a third straight day of being unable to do anything with their water but flush it. The federal government is shipping in truckloads of bottled water, reports CNN, as authorities wrestle to get a chemical leak in the water supply under control. At this point, they can't even guess when people will be able to drink or bathe using the local water supply, reports the Charleston Gazette. The problem is that they can't simply treat the water; instead, miles of supply lines must be flushed.

Federal authorities have opened an investigation into the spill, in which up to 5,000 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal—"Crude MCHM"—leaked from a storage tank into the Elk River. By last night, more than 700 people had called the state's Poison Center to report symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea, though Reuters reports that "only a handful" had to go to the hospital. One sliver of good news is that tests show the chemical level in the water is declining, though it remains unsafe. "We're just not sure exactly how long it's going to take," says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. (More West Virginia stories.)

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