January 10

W.Va. chemical spill declared federal disaster

Residents in nine counties have been told not to bathe, brush their teeth or wash their clothes in tap water.

By John Raby
The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The White House has issued a federal disaster declaration in West Virginia, where a chemical spill that may have contaminated tap water has prompted officials to tell residents in nine counties not to bathe, brush their teeth or wash their clothes.

click image to enlarge

Crews clean up a chemical spill along the Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., which compromised the public water supply of nine counties on Thursday.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

A Freedom Industries worker places a boom in the Elk River Thursday near the site of a chemical leak in Charleston.

The Associated Press

Bill Hines, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says the declaration made overnight allows for direct federal assistance in dealing with the spill.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had previously declared a state of emergency Thursday after the spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby water treatment plant.

The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries, overran a containment area and went into the river.

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