Life is increasingly difficult for many of the 300,000 West Virginia residents who have gone three days without clean tap water, the Associated Press reports.
“I haven’t been able to cook anything at home and was hoping they were open,” Bill Rogers, 52, said outside a closed market near the capital of Charleston. “It seems like every place is closed. It’s frustrating. Really frustrating.”
On Thursday residents began complain about a licorice-type odor in the tap water, which turned out to be caused by leakage of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — a chemical used to wash coal — from a 40,000-gallon tank at the state’s biggest water treatment plant.
Located along the Elk River, the Kanawha Valley water treatment plant run by Freedom Industries affects 100,000 homes and businesses. A state of emergency and a temporary ban on tap water has been issued in nine counties.
Four people have been hospitalized and at least 32 people have sought treatment at area hospitals for nausea and vomiting.
“West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged NOT to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing,” Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement. “Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.”
As this Twitter user notes, the crisis is going underappreciated.
I wish people in the U.S. fully understood the water scare so they wouldn’t be making jokes about West Virginia.
— Senya (@gravityride) January 12, 2014
“A lot of people are facing bad situations because of this,” one resident who was helping elderly neighbours told AP. “They’re struggling. What I don’t understand is how did this happen?”
Here’s a glimpse of life without clean tap water.
“We don’t know how long it will last,” Matt Ballard, president of the Charleston Area Alliance, the state’s largest regional chamber of commerce, told AP. “I’m hoping a solution by early next week so business can get back to normal.”
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