Shops and restaurant using bottled water have begun reopening in West Virgina where a chemical spill last week left up to 300,000 people without tap water.
Residents and businesses, however, in nine counties and the state’s capital city Charleston, are still unable to use water from their faucets for anything other than flushing toilets after a coal mining chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, from a Freedom Industries’ tank leaked into the Elk River last Thursday.
Reuters reports it could be several days before tap water can be used water for drinking, bathing and cooking.
About a dozen restaurants in Charleston had reopened by yesterday afternoon after buying pricy bottled water and hotels were allowed to continue operating as long as they didn’t use tap water, the news agency says. Many hotels, however, only honored existing reservations to cut the cost of shipping linens off-site for cleaning.
Three years ago the US Chemical Safety Board urged West Virginia to create a new program to prevent hazardous chemical accidents, the Charleston Gazette reports. The state ignored the proposal, which followed an investigation of a 2008 explosion and fire killed two workers at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute.
Neither the state nor the federal government has inspected the site of the spill since 1991, the New York Times reports, adding that West Virginia law does not require inspections for chemical storage facilities.