Feds Probe West Virginia Chemical Spill

CHARLESTON, WV - AUGUST 23: The sun sets on the skyline August 23, 2003 of Charleston, West Virginia. An emergency task force of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are trying to solve three murders, possibly by a serial sniper in and around the capital city. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clare Foran
Jan. 10, 2014, 9:16 a.m.

Fed­er­al of­fi­cials are launch­ing an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the cause of a chem­ic­al spill in West Vir­gin­ia that may have con­tam­in­ated drink­ing-wa­ter sup­plies in nine counties.

The spill in­to the Elk River, which runs through the middle of the state, oc­curred when chem­ic­als leaked from a stor­age tank at Free­dom In­dus­tries in Char­le­ston. The com­pany has not yet is­sued a state­ment on the in­cid­ent.

The spill’s size is not yet clear, but state of­fi­cials have in­sti­tuted a tap-wa­ter ban in a num­ber of counties that may have been af­fected.

“We’re con­fid­ent that no more than 5,000 gal­lons [of chem­ic­als] es­caped,” Tom Alu­ise, a state De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion spokes­man, told the As­so­ci­ated Press. “A cer­tain amount of that got in­to the river. Some of that was con­tained.”

The spill has caused res­id­ents to rush to buy bottled wa­ter, lead­ing to short­ages in Char­le­ston.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., re­leased a state­ment Fri­day say­ing that he is work­ing with fed­er­al of­fi­cials to co­ordin­ate re­lief ef­forts.

“Today I have spoken with the sec­ret­ary of the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur­ity, the re­gion­al ad­min­is­trat­or of the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Gov­ernor [Earl Ray] Tomblin to en­sure that West Vir­gini­ans re­ceive every pos­sible re­source from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment while we work to re­solve this is­sue,” Manchin said.

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