West Virginia Water Crisis Nears End, Says Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

Updated: A ban on tap water has been partially lifted in West Virginia, ending a crisis for more than 300,000 people whose water supply was contaminated. posted on

1. Update — Jan. 13, 12:53 p.m. ET:


During a press conference on Monday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin lifted the ban on tap water for parts of West Virginia, ending a crisis for more than 300,000 people who were ordered not to use tap water after a chemical spill contaminated the water supply.

“The numbers we have today look good and we are finally at a point where the ‘do not use order’ has been lifted,” he said.

While the chemical that leaked ( 4-methylcyclohexane methanol) is not deadly, people were told not to wash, cook, or bath in their water, as it could have caused symptoms ranging from skin irritation and rashes to vomiting and diarrhea.

Since Thursday, 231 patients who complained of symptoms were seen at 4 different hospitals. Fourteen patients were admitted, and none are in critical condition.

Mayor General Hoyer said that the National Guard is still outlying areas that need to be tested, and residents should not turn on their water unless they are told to do so.

Gen Hoyer they will lift the tap water ban by zone. 264 samples tested. At 10:15 this am, hospitals started flushing system.

4. Watch part of Monday’s press conference below.

5. As of Sunday, thousands of people were still without potable water after a chemical spill was discovered in the Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday, Jan. 9, leaving more than 300,000 people in the surrounding areas without drinking water.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

The Elk River in Charleston on Jan. 11.

6. The tap water became unsuitable for drinking, washing or bathing, local media reports. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency on Friday.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — a chemical used to for cleaning coal — leaked from a storage tank about a mile away from the water plant, CNN reports.

7. On Monday, Gov. Tomblin said that much progress had been made, and the state would being flushing the water systems, which would take several days.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

8. There is not yet a specific timetable given on when flushing will begin.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

9. Stores began to run out of supplies as thousands in the Charleston area stocked up on water on Friday and Saturday.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters
Stringer / Reuters
Lisa Hechesky / Reuters
Lisa Hechesky / Reuters
Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

14. Major Gen. James A Hoyer said that the National Guard hopes to run more than 100 samples Sunday, which will be provided to the water company and the governor.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters

15. Five people have been hospitalized and 73 complained of problems that may be linked to the licorice-smelling pollutant.

Lisa Hechesky / Reuters
Stringer / Reuters

Water is distributed to residents at the South Charleston Community Center

17. Many turned to social media to air their grievances.

so the water at my college is contaminated by a chemical spill.. so does that mean I never have to go back

20. And one man recorded a video in which he allegedly lights the water from his faucet on fire.

In a phone call to BuzzFeed, the woman who uploaded the video, Marci Wandling, said her husband filmed the experiment on Saturday in their family’s kitchen.

“We live 11 miles from where the spill happened,” Wandling said. “He saw a YouTube video of somebody lighting their water on fire and decided to try it himself.”

Their water has been contaminated since Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and is still unsafe to use for consumption, cooking, washing, or bathing.

Wandling said she tried to replicate this video on Sunday night by lighting the water on fire in her bathroom, but did not have the same reaction.

“There was a flame for a second or two, but it wasn’t the same reaction,” she said. “We had no idea what would happen. Hopefully it’s a sign that the chemicals are being flushed out.”

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