West Virginia water restrictions lifted for 35,000 of 300,000

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(CNN)

WEST VIRGINIA — A few thousand more West Virginia residents were told they could use their tap water Tuesday morning, nearly a week after a chemical leak tainted the supply for them and hundreds of thousands of others.

A “do not use” order was lifted for yet another zone Tuesday — the Southridge/Southside area near Charleston — bringing to about 35,000 the number of customers now free to use the water after first flushing their plumbing, the West Virginia American Water company said.

But that leaves nearly 90 percent of the 300,000 people initially prohibited from using their taps still waiting for the all-clear.

The state put water restrictions into effect Thursday after thousands of gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol poured out of a storage facility on the nearby Elk River.

The licorice-scented chemical, typically used to clean coal, got into Charleston’s water supply, resulting in people being told not to drink, cook or wash with water from their own taps.

The spill left Charleston residents scrambling for bottled water to wash their hands, brush their teeth and cook. Without safe water, schools and many businesses were forced to close.