West Virginia chemical spill: end of water ban in sight, but questions linger (+video)(Read article summary)
West Virginia officials see 'a light at the end of the tunnel' in the five-day water crisis that barred 300,000 residents from using tap water for anything but flushing following a chemical spill.
“We see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) told reporters Sunday.
The West Virginia American Water Co. continued testing local drinking water throughout the weekend for 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical compound used to clean coal, which seeped from a holding tank at Freedom Industries into the Elk River on Thursday, contaminating local drinking water.
Officials have been waiting for concentrations to dissipate below 1 part per million before allowing residents to resume using the water for anything other than flushing. While weekend testing indicated that the concentration in four testing locations has dropped to a safe level, officials plan to continue testing throughout the distribution area Monday before giving residents the all clear.
The utility is expected to lift the ban gradually and will notify residents directly as the status for their zone changes. A website will be set up to help residents determine what zone they live in.
Residents will be instructed to flush potentially contaminated water from their pipes, hot water tanks, and the icemakers in their refrigerators.
“What we are trying to stress is that, as the plan unfolds, it is very important for people to adhere to that plan,” says Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.