Charleston, W.V., Dealing With Drinking Water Ban

Neda Simeonova

For five days now, Charleston, W.V., residents have had to rely on bottled water as a result of an industrial chemical spill.

The chemical, a 4-methylcyclohexane methanol used in coal processing, seeped from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, just upstream of the intake pipes for the Virginia American Water Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant. Currently, the water distribution system is undergoing concentric flushing, which is expected to take several days. The drinking water ban has affected about 300,000 people across nine counties.

Over the weekend, tests showed that contamination levels were below a toxic threshold and officials anticipate that the ban on tap water would be lifted in waves for specific areas, with downtown Charleston expected to be first.

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