West Virginia chemical spill leaves thousands without tap water

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In the United States, up to 300,000 people in West Virginia have spent a second night without tap water after a chemical spill into the Elk River.

Almost 19,000 litres of material used by Freedom Industries for mining, steel and cement works leaked into the river forcing authorities to declare a state of emergency.

“We have a baby and so we’re trying to find water for him for formula. It really doesn’t matter for us, we’re just trying to make sure he has what he needs,” said Charleston resident Beverly Hager.

“My daughter is 13, of course she has to have a shower and I told her not to do that because when we turned on our water this morning, it just smelled like a cough-syrup,” added another resident, Larry Bonham.

The Elk River’s chemical levels are said to be declining but there is a lingering odour. Although it is not highly lethal a safe level is yet to be quantified.

Hourly tests are being carried out in the meantime but authorities say it is unclear when they will be able to lift the do-not-drink ban or when the water will be safe to use.