A water company executive said it could be days before uncontaminated water is flowing again in West Virginia.
About 300,000 people remained without clean tap water for a third day Saturday following a chemical spill into the Elk River.
Water sample test results must consistently show that the chemical’s presence in the public water system is at or below 1 parts per million, the level recommended by federal agencies, before residents can turn on their taps again, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said Saturday at a news conference.
The company told residents in nine counties to not drink their tap water or use it to bathe or wash dishes or clothes after a foaming agent used in coal processing escaped from a Freedom Industries plant in Charleston and seeped into the Elk River. The only allowed use of the water was for flushing toilets.
Thirty-two people sought treatment at area hospitals for symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Of those, four people were admitted to the Charleston Area Medical Center. Their conditions were not immediately known, Allison Adler of the Department of Health and Human Resources said Saturday.
Federal authorities, including the US Chemical Safety Board, opened an investigation into Thursday’s spill. The Chemical Safety Board said Saturday that its investigative team is scheduled to arrive in West Virginia on Monday.
About 7,500 gallons of the chemical escaped from a storage tank and a containment area, said Michael Dorsey, chief of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Homeland Security and Emergency Response office.
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