News / USA

West Virginia Chemical Spill Leaves Hundreds of Thousands Without Clean Water

West Virginia Chemical Spill Leaves Hundreds of Thousands Without Clean Wateri
X
January 13, 2014 7:29 PM
For the fifth day in a row, 300,000 residents in and around the U.S. city of Charleston, West Virginia, have been left without access to clean water, after a chemical spill contaminated the Elk River. Schools and businesses remain closed as a result of the spill, which has stained the area’s water blue-green and made it smell like licorice. VOA’s Brian Allen has more.
Brian Allen
For the fifth consecutive day, 300,000 residents in and around the U.S. city of Charleston, West Virginia, have been left without access to clean water, after a chemical spill contaminated the Elk River. Schools and businesses remain closed as a result of the spill, which has stained the area’s water blue-green and made it smell like licorice.

Officials have no timeline for when the water will be safe to use, but West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said Sunday the clean-up effort has been positive and an end to the crisis is in sight.

"Our team has been diligent in testing samples from throughout the affected area.  The numbers look good, and like last night, they are very encouraging.  I believe that we are at a point where we can say that we see light at the end of the tunnel. I ask all West Virginians to continue to be patient as we work to safely restore service to the affected areas,” said Tomblin.

State officials warned residents not to use tap water for anything other than flushing toilets.

"We have a baby and so we are trying to find water for him for formula. It really does not matter for us, we are just trying to make sure he has what he needs," said West Virginia resident Beverly Hager.

Freedom Industries is the company responsible for the chemical spill. Twenty-eight thousand liters (7,500) gallons of a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process leaked into the river on January 9. The toxic chemical then traveled downstream from Freedom Industries to a nearby water treatment plant.

Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, said, ''The condition of the plant was not good... and the danger was known to the previous owner and the danger was known to the current owner."

"It's kind of a sweet smell, almost. It smells almost like candy," said one woman who is a local resident.

Tap water in the area is now stained blue-green, and smells sickly sweet.

"People were coming in here asking me what that smell was, you know.  I said, 'You know, it is licorice," said local business owner Fred Petry.

Schools and many business remain closed, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the West Virginia Army National Guard have delivered nearly one million liters of bottled water to the area.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More