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U.S. attorney launches investigation of W. Virginia chemical spill

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A U.S. attorney announced a formal investigation Friday into a chemical company that's blamed for releasing potentially dangerous liquids into a West Virginia waterway, the Elk River, cutting off almost 300,000 residents from their tap water supplies.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in the state, sending emergency federal workers to assist with local relief efforts. The National Guard was also on hand to distribute bottled water supplies to area residents. One local water distribution center has already run out of supplies, telling people to come back later in the afternoon to see if more bottles are available, Fox News reported.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that a federal prosecutor is launching a query to determine how exactly 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from the 48,000-gallon tank at a chemical storage site located a mile from the West Virginia American Water Company. The chemical is used to clean coal before it goes to the market, CNN said.

Residents can't even brush their teeth with the water, never mind drink, bathe or cook with it, emergency responders said. The advisory has now spread to nine different counties, NBC said.

 

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