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~300,000 people in West Virginia without clean water due to chemical spill

Nearly 300,000 people in WV are without clean water due to a chemical spill at Freedom Industries. The affected citizens have been instructed not to use the water for cleaning, cooking, showering, drinking - aka no use at all.

The chemical is a coal preparation agent. It is reportedly not toxic, but can be harmful if swallowed. (I don't understand the difference between "toxic" and "harmful"??? EDIT - see this Reddit thread, link from Chasmosaur100 - thanks!) It leaked into the Elk River, which is the water source for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. The company did not report the spill to authorities; rather, citizens contacted authorities because they could smell the chemical, which has a licorice odor, and authorities tracked down the source. Schools and restaurants are closed and grocery stores are sold out of bottled water. President Obama declared the area a federal disaster area and is sending assistance.


My parents live near there but fortunately are not in the affected area, as their water source is a different river. When I was growing up, that area was generally called "chemical valley" because there were so many chemical plants around there and it was kinda stinky.

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