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Chemical In West Va. Water More Diluted, But Still Unsafe

Members of the Nitro Volunteer Fire Department distribute water to local residents on Saturday.
Michael Switzer
Members of the Nitro Volunteer Fire Department distribute water to local residents on Saturday.

The amount of a dangerous chemical in West Virginian's tap water is more diluted, but it is still unsafe for drinking, washing or bathing.

WCHS-TV reports that Col. Greg Grant with the National Guard told reporters that they are seeing readings of methylcyclohexane methanol dip below 1 part per million, the amount that the Center for Disease Control says is safe, but those readings have spiked from time to time.

"The numbers are turning in the right direction," Grant said.

Still, about 300,000 West Virginia residents entered a fourth day without clean tap water. Not only that, but restaurants have been forced to close, leaving residents with few options for food. As The Associated Press reports, frustration is growing:

"Chris Laws found bottled water on Saturday for his two elderly next-door neighbors.

" 'They can't get out,' said Laws, 42, of Marmet, a coal miner. 'I'm keeping an eye on them. You got to watch out for your neighbors. They're the ones who are going to watch out for you.'

"He said he was angry at the company at the center of the leak, Freedom Industries.

" 'A lot of people are facing bad situations because of this,' he said. 'They're struggling. What I don't understand is how did this happen?' "

As we've reported, this all started on Thursday when state inspectors found that a tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked a chemical used in a coal-washing process into the Elk River.

WCHS-TV reports some good news: Some restaurants that have proven to the health department that they are getting their water from a different source have reopened in Kanawha County.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.