W. Virginia: Local economy slips as water ban remains in effect, over 300k affected

Staff Writer

The “water use ban” is still in place”, said West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in a recent press conference

CHARLESTON  (INTELLIHUB) — Residents, workers and business owners alike are starting to get fed up with the recent Freedom Industries chemical spill which has affected over 300,000 residents in 9 counties.

The water ban is particularly annoying to locals because no one can bathe, wash their hands or drink the water causing major problems for local businesses such as restaurants and hotels.

Bottled water is being brought in by the truckload, but some fear that the demand will be hard to upkeep as thirsty resident need water.

In fact, some business owners are now wondering how long they can keep their doors open if the situation persists.

State official have also put out announcements asking local business owners to check their insurance policies to see if the lost revenue will be covered, but nothing is guaranteed.

CBS News reported:

The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River. 

State officials said Saturday they believe about 7,500 gallons leaked. Some of the chemical was contained before flowing into the river; it’s not clear exactly how much entered the water supply.

It could take days for clean tap water to flow again. First, water sample test results must consistently show that the chemical’s presence in the public water system is at or below 1 parts per million, the level recommended by federal agencies, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said Saturday at a news conference.

Most visitors have cleared out of Charleston while locals are either staying home or driving out of the area to find a hot meal or a shower elsewhere. Orders not to use tap water for much other than flushing toilets mean that the spill is an emergency not just for the environment but for local businesses.

It has also been reported that over 32 people have been treated at hospitals, mostly for nausea related to contact with the chemically tainted water.

Some have put bags over their faucets to avoid using water by mistake out of habit.