Nightly News   |  February 01, 2014

West Virginia Residents Worry Water Isn’t Safe

West Virginia residents question if their water supply is safe weeks after a chemical leak poisoned it.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there are new concerns tonight that the water declared safe in west virginia following a chemical spill may not be. officials yet again are handing out bottled water to the residents. nbc's kristen welker has more.

>> reporter: lester, good evening, i spent the day in charleston yesterday. and many people told me their lives have been fundamentally changed. the state says the water in west virginia is safe but that is being questioned and creating a lot of confusion and fear. life has not been the safe in the goldman house since the chemical mchm leaked into the virginia water supply from a tank at freedom industries three weeks ago.

>> what is frustrating, there is no end in sight.

>> reporter: for weeks, this family says the tap water smells like licorice, associated with the chemical.

>> we have a new normal now, we have new ways of cooking and washing hands.

>> reporter: the goldmans say they have been using bottled water and will continue to especially when tests found the levels of the chemical higher than standard, including at their oldest daughter's school.

>> my big concern will be the health of my kids maybe in ten years.

>> reporter: restaurants say they have lost business and many of them are now touting the fact they cook with bottled water .

>> on the other side?

>> reporter: the state had stopped giving out bottled water but started again on friday. the doctor here is the commissioner for public health and she insists the water is safe.

>> reporter: i am drinking it and cooking with it and bathing in it. my family is, as well.

>> why are you passing out water if the water is safe to drink?

>> reporter: we're doing it because we're listening to our constituents. okay? they just don't have confidence and so we are trying to tell them we hear you. we have confidence but we understand you don't yet.

>> tierney also says the hcsm found at the schools is neglig negligible and they will work to flush out the supplies. they say they need to do a better job of informing the public.

>> reporter: the state says we're like elaborates in the sense that this is the first time this chemical has been exposed to humans at a large scale.

>> pregnant women in particular have been told to refrain from drinking the water. for jennifer, who is due at any moment?

>> reporter: it is pretty stressful.

>> it is just another piece of conflicting information adding to her fears.

>> reporter: but to think about bringing this one day, two day-old baby home and not knowing well, what are the real health effects ? because there is just so much uncertainty, still.

>> now, the state is aiming to have the school's water at safe standards by monday. part of the broader problem is that very little is known about mchm, or a second chemical that leaked into the water supply . we reached out to freedom industries several times but got for response.

>> reporter: