Coal Chemical Spill Turns Tap Water Toxic in W. Virginia
West Viriginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency following a Thursday chemical leak at a coal industry facility along the Elk River, a source of drinking water for nine counties and hundreds of thousands of people.
The toxin reportedly spilled, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, is used to process coal. Though not cited as lethal, health officials told reporters that the chemical is a skin and eye irritant and can be very harmful if consumed.
“Please don’t drink, don’t wash with, don’t do anything with the water,” Gov. Tomblin said in a statement.
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“West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged not to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing,” he continued. “Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes and schools.”
Later, the federal government also issued a state of emergency for the effected area, promising additional resources.
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