National/World

West Virginia orders company to drain chemical tanks after chemical spill

Friday, January 10, 2014
Elk River in Charleston, W.Va.

This Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 photo shows a stretch of the Elk River in 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 led officials to tell at least 300,000 people not to bathe, brush their teeth or wash their clothes. The West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. About 100,000 water customers, or 300,000 people total, were affected, state officials said. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)

West Virginia authorities have ordered a company to remove the chemicals from its storage tanks after a spill contaminated the water supply of nine counties and forced residents to use bottled water.

Officials at the Department of Environmental Protection ordered Freedom Enterprises Inc. late Friday to start removing all the chemicals in 14 above-ground storage tanks near the Elk River within 24 hours.

The chemicals in three of those tanks, including one that was discovering leaking Thursday, have mostly been removed. Within a day, the company must submit a plan to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater.

The leak left the water for 300,000 people in and around Charleston stained blue-green and smelling like licorice. It was unclear Friday how much spilled and when residents can use the water again.

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(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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