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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid