The chemical spill that has left more than 300,000 people in West Virginia without water appears to be the product of lax regulation in a state where coal and chemical firms have long operated with little oversight, the New York Times finds. A document released over the weekend reveals state authorities were aware that the company responsible was storing up to a million pounds of the coal-cleaning chemical Crude MCHM at a riverside facility near a water treatment plant, but it's not clear whether the treatment plant knew about the risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.
"We can’t just point a single finger at this company," says the director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, noting that the site of the spill hadn't been inspected since 1991. "We need to look at our entire system and give some serious thought to making some serious reform and valuing our natural resources over industry interests." A tap water ban is still in place in the Charleston region, where many schools and businesses remain closed, but authorities say they can "see the light at the end of the tunnel" and they expect the ban to be lifted within days, starting in downtown Charleston and other priority zones, NBC reports. (Read more West Virginia stories.)