(CHARLESTON, W.V.) — The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency is continuing to provide assistance to residents of West Virginia affected by a chemical spill in Charleston, W.V. on Thursday.
FEMA delivered about one million liters of water from distribution centers in Maryland to the area for state use. The delivery followed a Friday decision by President Obama to sign an emergency declaration for federal disaster assistance.
Residents in a number of counties in West Virginia are being warned not to use or drink their water after MCHM — a chemical used to clean coal in coal processing plants — began to leak from a hole in a 48,000 gallon tank.
Following a notice from the West Virginia American Water Company that its water supply had been contaminated, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Thursday evening issued a State of Emergency for Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties. Several school districts are also affected by the chemical leak, including Lincoln, Queen Shoals, Reamer, City of Culloden and City of Hurricane public schools.
A backup system meant to prevent chemicals from leaking into the river failed, leading to contamination of the water supply in the region.
It is not clear how long the warning to avoid using water will remain in effect, though it is expected to take “several days,” after the State Department of Environmental Protection determined that 7,500 gallons of the chemical leaked into the water.
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