Nightly News   |  January 13, 2014

Charleston Gets Its Water Back, 5 Days After Spill

The state of West Virginia is under fire for failing to monitor a dangerous chemical so close to a water supply.

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>>> good evening, it is worth wondering what the news coverage would be like, what the outrage would be like if this were happening in new york or washington or chicago or los angeles , but it is happening instead in west virginia . the water has been contaminated for hundreds of thousands of people in nine counties, and after days of real hardship and real suffering, while the first all h all-clear has been sounded telling the customers it is now okay to use the water after flushing out the water pipes , who is going to take that first drink or first shower or cook with the water. and now, many would like to know when it is safe. our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson is in charleston , west virginia for us again, good evening, anne.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, and the worry tonight is now moving towards cincinnati where officials there say they are going to shut down the water intake valves for two days as the residue from this chemical spill moves along the ohio river . but the mayor of cincinnati says the water is absolutely safe to drink. here in charleston , at long last, the taps are being turned on. there is no sweeter sound in charleston , west virginia . as the city started flushing its faucets, idle for five days by a chemical spill .

>> the numbers we have today look good. and we're finally at a point where the do not use order has been lifted in certain areas.

>> reporter: natue michael came home on his lunch hour to run his taps.

>> reporter: how happy are you?

>> you don't realize the importance until it happens.

>> reporter: along with the water comes the licorice scent that came along with the water problem.

>> it is pretty strong.

>> reporter: you could smell it here at this elementary school where 360 children attend.

>> there is a faint smell coming off the water.

>> reporter: and so does that concern you at all?

>> no, i trust in the authorities they're advising the right things to do. we're following the protocols. they even said if there is a slight smell, there is no danger.

>> reporter: this is the site of the leak, freedom industries, but some are still angry about the governor's dismissive attitude at his press conference last week.

>> look, guys, it is an extremely hard day , i'm having a hard time talking, i would appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up.

>> reporter: the start is under fire for failing to monitor the issue so close. they concede there is room to improve.

>> this particular chemical is not a regulated chemical or a hazardous chemical . and so therefore it doesn't require any of the signage that would be associated.

>> reporter: he says that may change in the wake of this spill. while the water is usable here in downtown charleston , tonight officials say it may take days before there is clean water , clean tap water in all nine counties affected. brian?

>> anne thompson where the story goes on in charleston , west virginia tonight, thank you.