More than 200,000 West Virginia residents are without water after a storage facility chemical spill on Thursday. A 48,000-gallon tank reportedly began leaking 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (MCHM), which then seeped into the Elk River about a mile north of a major water treatment plant for the Charleston, West Virginia area.
Late Thursday, Governor Tomblin declared a state of emergency, and announced this morning that the federal government has approved a request of assistance. According to reports from the The New York Times, many stores were running out of bottled water and residents feared they drank tap water before the announcement was made.
“I’m six months pregnant and drank tap water at a restaurant about an hour before the notice was sent out,” one women explained on the West Virginia American Water Facebook page.
"Why did this alert take so long??," another person asked. "I drank it all day!!!"
The MCHM, which is used to wash and remove coal impurities, reportedly filled an overflow container and then began spilling into the river just above the treatment plant. MCHM is not toxic, but can lead to headaches, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing, reports The Times.