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MAJOR UPDATE: THE DO NOT USE WARNING HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO ADDITIONAL COUNTIES: The warning now applies to all WV American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.

I just got the news from Kanawha County Delegate Meshea Poore:
Weatherdude is also following it on his Facebook feed:
If you live in any of those five counties, officials are warning that the water is only safe for flushing the toilet and putting out fires (their words).

From the Charleston Daily Mail:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia American Water customers in a five-county area are being advised not to drink, cook with, bathe in or boil their water after the company's water supply was contaminated by a chemical leak early Thursday.

The warning applied to Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Jackson and Lincoln counties.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin swiftly called a state of emergency.

Water customers were receiving automated calls with the warning.  

The only safe use for the company's water is to flush down a toilet or put out a fire, Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety announced on Twitter Thursday evening.


The water situation arose following a chemical leak Thursday morning at Freedom Industries.

A strong licorice smell that settled over the Kanawha Valley on Thursday morning was determined to be a product from the company's headquarters, located on Barlow Drive just outside of Charleston, said C.W. Sigman, Kanawha County Deputy Emergency Manager.

...The leaked product is 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, which is used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation.

An initial statement from Freedom Industries apparently claimed no health risk to the public, though 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol is a known skin and respiratory irritant.

More to come...

Disclaimer: I am a fundraising consultant for Meshea Poore's congressional campaign in WV-02

3:38 PM PT: Per Del. Poore, WV American Water is advising that customers not use their water for at least the next 24 hours.

3:47 PM PT:Very important reminder from Meshea:

3:53 PM PT:
Here's the official statement from West Virginia American Water:

On January 9, a chemical spill occurred along the Elk River, causing contamination of the Kanawha Valley water system. The entire Kanawha Valley water system is affected, including Kanawha, Boone and parts of Putnam counties.


What should I do?


Due to the nature of the contamination, it is not safe to use the water for any purpose. Alternative sources of water should be used for all purposes.

Bottled water or water from another, safe source should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, food and baby formula preparation and all other purposes until further notice. The current acceptable uses of tap water are toilet flushing and firefighting.

The need for this order is due to a chemical spill of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol along the Elk River in Charleston.

What is being done?

Water quality specialists continue to monitor both raw and finished water and crews will conduct flushing throughout the distribution system.

Will be West Virginia American Water will inform you when it is determined that the water is once again safe to use.

For more information, please contact Customer Service at 1-800-685-8660.

General guidelines on ways to lessen the health risk are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

This notice is being sent by West Virginia American Water.

3:59 PM PT: From WSAZ in Charleston:

Boiling water will not get rid of the chemical.

This is believed to impact 100,000 customers.

The Kanawha Charleston Health Department, which covers Kanawha and Putnam counties tells all permit holders in both counties, including daycares, universities, restaurants, and schools need to shut down.

...FEMA has been contacted to bring clean water into the area.

4:14 PM PT: While not included in the list of affected counties, Clay County WV is closing all schools tomorrow because of concerns about the water supply.

No official word from the affected counties, though one Kanawha County elementary school was already scheduled to be closed tomorrow because of a gas leak.

4:42 PM PT: Some photos from area grocery stores making the rounds on Twitter:

4:48 PM PT: Looks like some high school basketball games are proceeding tonight despite the water crisis, while others are being cancelled. @WVprephoops reports that the Winfield vs. Riverside varsity game is cancelled, but Capital vs. South Charleston still seems to be on.

Meanwhile, @WVpress, the West Virginia Press Association's twitter page, is saying that just about all the water and bagged ice from regional grocery stores are gone (see the photos in the update above for some flavor of the situation).

5:35 PM PT: Per WSAZ, a few other utilities are now affected:

The state of emergency includes West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties. Culloden in Cabell County is also under the advisory. No other Cabell County customers are effected.

West Virginia American Water says customers on Queen Shoals PSD, Lincoln PSD, and Reamer Hill are also impacted by the advisory.

5:59 PM PT: More from WSAZ:

Putnam PSD is asking customers to consider filling bottle or 2 for friends & family living in the area covered by Do Not Use warning.

The West Hamlin Volunteer Fire Department has water available for WVAW customers in Lincoln County.

6:02 PM PT: More from Del. Poore's Facebook page:

Boone Co. schools are also closed tomorrow.

She also reports that "a water station has been set up at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in St. Albans - at 405 B Street & will be open until 10 p.m. "

6:12 PM PT: Forwarding a request from law enforcement:

6:23 PM PT: Del. Poore is going to be on 98.7 FM in about ten minutes to talk about ways to cope without water for the next day. Please tune in if you're in the listening area.

6:56 PM PT: Full list of school closings here:

Some school systems are specifically shuttering all extracurricular activities, while some seem to be carrying on. Check with your local district for details if you're in one of the affected counties.

7:22 PM PT: Here's the State of Emergency declaration from Gov. Tomblin's site:

Governor Tomblin Declares State of Emergency In 9 Counties


Water to be available through the county offices of emergency services

     CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this evening issued a State of Emergency for Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, and Roane counties.  This declaration follows a notice from West Virginia American Water Company that its water supply had become contaminated.  Residents served by Lincoln PSD, Queen Shoals PSD, Reamer PSD, City of Culloden PSD, and City of Hurricane PSD are also affected.

     “West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged NOT to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing,” Gov. Tomblin said.  “Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.  I’ve been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible.”

7:28 PM PT: Some good news, at least for a few of the folks going without water tonight:

7:50 PM PT: has posted a list of water filling stations, and seems to be regularly updating. If you're in the area, this looks like the source to watch for where to find H2O. Some are closing earlier tonight, so if you need water, don't wait to check it out. The current list:

Bartlett-Chapman Funeral Home

409 6th Avenue St. Albans, WV


Call for emergencies only tonight - Open tomorrow at 7 a.m.

Chapman Funeral Home

3941 Teays Valley Road

Hurricane, WV


Call for emergencies only tonight - Open tomorrow at 7 a.m.

Saint Marks Episcopal Church

405 B Street

Saint Albans, WV

Will have a filling station until 11:30 p.m. tonight and will open at 7 a.m. tomorrow

West Hamlin Volunteer Fire Dept.

121 Guyan Street

West Hamlin WV, 25571

Please bring your own container

Crossing Baptist Church

2031 Harrison Avenue

Saint Albans, WV

WV Division of Highways HQ

Route 60 and Walnut Street

Saint Albans, WV

Please bring you own container

8:05 PM PT:
More good news, per State Delegate Meshea Poore (D-Kanawha):

The Red Cross has also activated volunteers to help with transporting water to, and distributing water throughout, the affected counties.

8:08 PM PT: Price gougers, beware: the WV AG's office is on the lookout for anyone raising prices by more than 10%.

10:40 PM PT: From nancyjones in the comments:

Also important for those in the affected area: (8+ / 0-)

General advice : Move out of dangerous area. Show this material safety data
sheet to the doctor in attendance. Symptoms of poisoning may
only appear several hours later. Do not leave the victim

If inhaled : Move to fresh air. If unconscious place in recovery position
and seek medical advice. If symptoms persist, call a physician.

In case of skin contact : If skin irritation persists, call a physician. If on skin, rinse well
with water. If on clothes, remove clothes.

In case of eye contact : Immediately flush eye(s) with plenty of water. Remove contact
lenses. Protect unharmed eye. Keep eye wide open while
rinsing. If eye irritation persists, consult a specialist.

If swallowed : Keep respiratory tract clear. Do NOT induce vomiting. Do not
give milk or alcoholic beverages. Never give anything by
mouth to an unconscious person. Take victim immediately to

by nancyjones on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:19:18 PM EST

Originally posted to JR on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Appalachian Journal.

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