West Virginia authorities are slowly lifting a five-day ban on tap water, following the January 9, 2014 chemical spill into the Elk River.
Some 300,000 residents have been unable to drink, cook or even bathe with tap water since as much as 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, also known as crude MCHM, spilled into the river.
West Virginia lies in the heart of coal country. The coal-cleaning chemical came leaked from a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries and located in Charleston, the state capital. The company has operated for some 22 years.
Residents began to complain that water smelled like licorice, which led authorities to investigate.
Freedom Industries President Gary Southern released the following statement after the discovery of the leak.
"Since the discovery of the leak, safety for residents in Kanawha and surrounding counties has been Freedom Industries' first priority,” said Southern. We have been working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue.
“Our team has been working around the clock since the discovery to contain the leak to prevent further contamination,” added Southern.