More customers can use tap water in West Virginia

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(CNN) — More than half of the 300,000 West Virginians who haven’t been able to turn on their faucets since last week now have access to safe water again, a utility said.

About 51,000 customers — or 153,000 people — have had their “do not use” water order lifted, according to Laura Jordan, external affairs manager for West Virginia American Water.

The problem stemmed from a leak of several thousand gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol — a substance used in the coal industry — from a storage tank belonging to a company called Freedom Industries. That chemical made its way into the Elk River, to a water plant about a mile upstream, and then into the water system.

Residents of nine counties — including the one that is home to Charleston, West Virginia’s capital and most populated city — were urged last week not to use their tap water to do anything except flush their toilets. With its strong odor as the telltale sign, officials warned that they couldn’t say that the water was safe.

By CNN Staff

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