Things are really bad in West Virginia right now. If you haven’t heard, there’s been a chemical spill that’s contaminated the drinking water for nine counties in western West Virginia and impacted approximately 300,000 people.
About 5,000 gallons of a chemical used by the coal industry to wash coal of impurities spilt into the Elk River, which then contaminated the water source thousands of people rely on.
Since this was discovered, people in the impacted area have been told not to use their water in any way other than flushing the toilet.
Just imagine that for a moment. Not being able to take a shower, drink tap water, wash your hands, cook — do anything with the running water most of us take for granted every single day.
This, of course, has caused a panic in these areas leading to citizens rushing to stores to stock up on bottled water.
Granted, FEMA has been doing its best to bring in water trucks to help people whose lives have been impacted by this disaster, but no amount of tanker water or bottled water will be able to replace the convenience of basic tap water.
That being said, it goes without saying that tensions are high in the area when it comes to the availability of any water, particularly bottled water. Well, this apparently prompted Wal-Mart to call local law enforcement authorities prior to the arrival of a truckload of bottled water to restock store shelves, to seek armed officers to guard employees while they restocked their shelves.
I honestly can’t even imagine what life must be like in these counties impacted by this spill.
As this situation unfolds, many questions will have to be answered. Possibly the biggest one being why did people know about this spill Thursday morning, yet the public wasn’t notified until that evening? This left thousands of residents consuming water contaminated with a dangerous chemical, many of them becoming very ill.
There is some good news. Officials are saying that tests show the chemical concentration in the area’s drinking water is becoming more diluted West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer said, “There has been a reduction in the concentration in the water from two parts per million to 1.7 parts per million. The CDC says one part per million would be an acceptable level. Point-one would be the level there they would not notice any smell or taste difference.”
So while news is better, it’s clear that this situation is still a long way off from being completely resolved.