A chemical spill in West Virginia has closed restaurants and schools and left up to 300,000 people without tap water.
The spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, a chemical used in the coal industry, originated from Freedom Industries’ water treatment plant on the Elk River in Charleston, Reuters reports. Freedom Industries produces specialty chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries. The water treatment plant serves 100,000 homes and businesses.
Health officials closed all restaurants and schools receiving water from the West Virginia American Water company and President Obama today issued an emergency declaration, ordering federal aid to help clean up the spill.
Residents are advised to only use tap water for flushing toilets and fighting fires — not for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing.
Police officers stood guard outside a Kroger supermarket as shoppers loaded up on bottled water, Reuters says.
US demand for water treatment chemicals will rise 3.2 percent per year to reach $6.7 billion in 2017, an increase driven by growth in the oil, gas and mining industries and a rebound in manufacturing production, according to a study by the Freedonia Group published in October.