warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

300,000 West Virginians Still Without Clean Tap Water

Francesca Bessey |
January 12, 2014 | 9:20 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

(Sam Beebe, Creative Commons)
(Sam Beebe, Creative Commons)
What started as a few complaint calls Thursday to West Virginian American Water has turned into a public health fiasco that could take days to fix.

When state officials found out that the strange licorice-like odor coming from people's tap water had been caused by a chemical spill, an area home to more than 300,000 people was warned against using public water for anything other than flushing the toilet.

State officials believe as much as 7,500 gallons of the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, leaked into the water supply at a treatment facility along the Elk River. In order for the water to be declared safe to drink again, samples must be conducted throughout the affected nine-county region. Only after these samples show safe levels of the chemical for a 24-hour period will officials give the all-clear.

SEE ALSO: Cuba Reports New Cholera Outbreak

The spill has proved particularly detrimental to small businesses, most of which are closed. Residents have also expressed concerns for the elderly and others who may have trouble getting to a place where they would have access to clean water.

Federal authorities have opened an investigation into Thursday's spill.


Read the full story at ABC News.

Reach Executive Producer Francesca Bessey here; follow her here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.