Latest water update: Ban lifted in more areas
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The "do not use" water order has now been lifted in Sissonville, and parts of Dunbar, Nitro, Poca, Bancroft, Winfield, Buffalo, Hometown, Liberty, Grandview and Staves Branch.
The order was lifted for the Grandview area at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, for Sissonville at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, and for the other areas at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.
A press release from West Virginia American Water says that water service has now been restored to about 51,600 customers.
Schools in Kanawha County were closed for the rest of the week. Boone and Lincoln county schools were closed Thursday. There was no word late Wednesday afternoon on Putnam County schools.
To find out if the "do not use" order is still in effect in your area go to www.westvirginiaamwater.com or call 855-390-4569.
Once the "do not use" order is lifted, there is a specific flushing process that residents must follow strictly before they can resume using water. Instructions on the flushing process are available at http://www.dhsem.wv.gov/Documents/How to Flush Your Plumbing System.pdf.
Much of the Kanawha Valley is now in its seventh day without water since a coal-processing chemical leaked out of a tank at Freedom Industries and into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply.
Schools in Kanawha, Putnam, Lincoln, Boone and part of Fayette counties remain closed, for the fourth day since the leak was detected. The Kanawha County Public Library system opened its Dunbar branch on Wednesday afternoon, after opening its Charleston and St. Albans branches on Tuesday.
West Virginia American Water and government officials continue to test water samples throughout the region. They cannot restore water service to an area until tests from that area consistently return levels below 1 part per million of Crude MCHM, the chemical that was spilled.
The 1 part per million threshold was established by the federal Centers for Disease Control, but it is unclear how that number was derived. The CDC has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, state Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler said a total of 332 patients had been seen at 10 area hospitals with symptoms that may be related to the spill. Of those, she said, 14 patients were admitted to various hospitals, but none of them remained there on Wednesday.
Poison-control centers had received more than 1,700 calls, Adler said. Of those, more those 1,400 involved people, 76 involved animals, and more than 250 were for information only.