Shoppers at the Kroger on Charleston’s West Side — and at other stores throughout the region — loaded their carts, baskets and arms with bottled water after residents in five counties were told Thursday not to drink, wash with or cook with water provided by West Virginia American Water. A chemical leak into the Elk River, near the water company’s treatment facility, prompted Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to declare a state of emergency in Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Jackson and Lincoln counties.
UPDATE 1/9/14 @ 7:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has issued a state of emergency for five counties after a chemical leak in Kanawha County Thursday morning. ( 8 counties as of 8:04 pm Thursday night)
The state of emergency includes West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.
West Virginia American Water says customers on Queen Shoals PSD, Lincoln PSD, and Reamer Hill are also impacted by the advisory.
WVAW customers are told not to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing, or bathing. You can use the water for toilets and fire emergencies. Boiling water will not get rid of the chemical.
This is believed to impact 100,000 customers.
The Kanawha Charleston Health Department, which covers Kanawha and Putnam counties tells WSAZ.com all permit holders in both counties, including daycares, universities, restaurants, and schools need to shut down.
Homeland Security says if you feel sick, seek medical attention at a local hospital or call poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You can also call the Emergency Operations Center at 304-746-8828.
According to a news release, the leak happened at Freedom Industries in Charleston. The leaked product is 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which is used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation.
The chemical is believed to have leaked into the Elk River.
West Virginia American Water believes the material is hazardous, but is not lethal in it’s current form.
FEMA has been contacted to bring clean water into the area.
Officials describe the smell as something similar to liquorice.
There is no estimated time when this will be repaired, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The State of Emergency will be in place until Department of Health and Human Reasources, Department of Environmental Protection and West Virginia American Water determine the water is safe.
They say customers with St. Albans, Cedar Grove Water, Town of West Hamlin Water, Branchland-Midkiff PSD, Putnam PSD are not affected by this leak.
Putnam PSD is asking customers to consider filling bottle or 2 for friends & family living in the area covered by Do Not Use warning.
The West Hamlin Volunteer Fire Department has water available for WVAW customers in Lincoln County.
Dr. Michael Castellani with Marshall University tells WSAZ.com the chemical is colorless and there is a faint odor.
Dr. Castellani says if you bath with contaminated water, it will irritate your skin.
He tells WSAZ.com it is also a respiratory irritant if you inhale it.
If you drink the water, Dr. Castenalli says it may have a gas taste.
We have several crews on the scene.