Tap water use OK'd in some West Virginia areas after spill

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 13, 2014 12:18 PM

(Reuters) - West Virginia officials on Monday lifted a ban on tap water use in some areas of the state hit by a chemical spill that affected hundreds of thousands of people for five days, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said.

Consumers in cleared areas should flush out their home systems before using the water, which has been barred for use except for flushing toilets since the chemical discharge into the Elk River on Thursday, he told a news conference.

"The numbers we have look good, and we are finally at a point where the do-not-use order has been lifted in certain areas," Tomblin said.

Officials had ordered some 300,000 people not to drink their tap water after as much as 7,500 gallons (28,000 liters) of the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude MCHM, leaked into the river.

Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water Co, said the first area cleared for use was in downtown Charleston, the state capital. It could be several days before the entire system is cleared for use, he said at the news conference.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone)