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More than 300,000 West Virginia residents remained without safe tap water Sunday for the fourth straight day — testing their resilience while officials warned it could be "days" before the problem is resolved.
An interagency team has been testing the quality of the water since a chemical spill Thursday on the Elk River contaminated the water supply in the heart of the state. A news conference updating residents is planned for 4 p.m. ET Sunday at the State Capitol.
Officials are also expected to discuss the plan for reopening schools, which were closed Friday.
Meanwhile, another 800,000 liters of clean water was being trucked into West Virginia on Sunday, state Homeland Security officials said.
The reliance on bottled water is taking its toll on frustrated residents across nine counties who’ve stripped stores and spent hours in long lines to collect water from tankers set up by the National Guard. Until the water is deemed safe, residents have been asked not to drink, bathe and cook with the tainted tap.
Coal miner Chris Laws managed to find bottled water on Saturday for his two elderly next-door neighbors in the tiny city of Marmet.
“They can’t get out,” said Laws, 42. “I’m keeping an eye on them. You got to watch out for your neighbors. They’re the ones who are going to watch out for you.”
He said he was angry at the company at the center of the leak, Freedom Industries.
The environmental emergency began following complaints to water provider West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the local tap water.
The source turned out to be the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.