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Published On: Mon, Jan 13th, 2014

West Virginia water crisis nears end, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

Day five of the water crisis in West Virginia where hundreds of thousands of people have been required to wash, cook and brush their teeth with bottled water, but officials promised the ban on tap water that was tainted by a chemical spill would soon be lifted.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked for patience Monday from about 300,000 people impacted by this tragedy, saying the end is near.

Tomblin’s Twitter appeal said state officials were working to restore water supplies after contamination that left parts of nine counties without potable water, but he didn’t offer any estimates of when that might happen.

Officials had been expected to announce areas where residents could once again use tap water. A news conference was scheduled for midday Monday, according to CNN affilaite WCHS.

Over the weekend, tests showed that levels of the licorice-smelling chemical used in coal processing were consistently below a toxic threshold, and in some samples, there was no trace of the chemical at all.

As the tests were expected to continue Monday, there were still questions about how and why the leak occurred and whether the company, Freedom Industries, took too long to let state officials know about the problem.

An interagency group working to restore water service and to provide water to customers planned to meet Monday morning, said Amy Shuler Goodwin, spokeswoman for the governor.

If tests continue to show the water is safe, the ban affecting about 300,000 people across a nine-county region will be lifted in waves for specific areas, the first of which would be in downtown Charleston, said West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre.

He gave no timetable for when people could start using the water again.

“I can tell you at this point, I don’t believe we’re several days from starting to lift (the ban), but I’m not saying today,” McIntyre said at a news conference Sunday.

“We see light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told reporters.

The governor urged residents not to use the water for anything but flushing toilets.

Some people have put plastic bags around faucets so that they will be reminded not to use the water while others have left town to take a shower and find an open restaurant.

Water distribution centers have handed out bottled water and trucks with large tanks of water have filled up containers for people to take home.

Only 10 people have reportedly been exposed to the contaminated water and were admitted to the hospital. None were in serious condition, Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling said.

The chemical, even in its most concentrated form, isn’t deadly.

However, people were told they shouldn’t even wash their clothes in affected water, as the compound can cause symptoms ranging from skin irritation and rashes to vomiting and diarrhea. 

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. West Virginia Begins to Lift Water Ban – Wall Street Journal | Fox Global News says:

    […] lifted for part of W.Va. after spillHouston ChronicleWCHS-TV8 -Pittsburgh Post Gazette -The Global Dispatchall 3,132 news […]

  2. West Virginia Begins to Lift Water Ban – Wall Street Journal | Singaporenewsjournal.com says:

    […] Areas After Flushing ProcessWCHS-TV8Pittsburgh Post Gazette -Talk Radio News Service -The Global Dispatchall 3,132 news […]

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