Chemical spill in West Virginia leave 300,000 people without drinking water

by Cassady Sharp

January 10, 2014

A coal chute crosses the Big Coal River from the Elk Run Coal mine, just south of Sylvester, West Virginia. An explosion at the nearby Upper Big Branch Mine operated by Massey Energy Co., killed 29 coal miners in the biggest mine disaster since 1970.

© James DeCamp / Greenpeace

A chemical spill from A West Virginia facility used to treat coal of impurities has contaminated the drinking water of nine West Virginia counties leaving 200,000 without drinking water. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has issued a state of emergency and ordered people in those counties not to bathe, drink, cook or wash clothes using their water. Freedom Industries is responsible for the leak from a48,000-gallon tank containing a compound called 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol. The West Virginia National Guard has started distributing bottled drinking water to effected counties.

Where to find clean water in West Virginia

Find out more about the risk of chemical disasters in the US

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