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Tomblin calls chemical spill 'unacceptable'

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin assured residents of Charleston and a nine-county surrounding region today that there's plenty of bottled drinking water available, while condemning the company responsible for the chemical spill that prompted West Virginia American Water to issue an unprecedented "do not use" order. 

"This discharge of pollutants is unacceptable," Tomblin said at a Friday afternoon press conference.

In other developments:

| Tomblin dismissed rumors that West Virginia American Water planned to shut off water to homes and businesses in Charleston and surrounding areas.

"That's a hoax," the governor said. "That is not happening. West Virginia American does not plan to stop pumping water." Company officials also said water would not be shut off

The company has directed customers not to use tap water to drink, bathe, cook and wash dishes and clothes. Residents can still use the water to flush toilets.

| Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection said 2,000 to 5,000 gallons of the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, leaked from a storage tank and Freedom Industries into the Elk River. The chemical flowed downstream to West Virginia American Water's plant.

| West Virginia National Guard leaders said tests this afternoon show that the amount of chemicals in the water near the plant are decreasing. Levels had dropped from 2 parts per million last night to 1.7 parts per million this afternoon.

| Tomblin said he didn't know when residents would be able to start drinking water from the tap.

"We'll get through this," Tomblin said. "We're tough West Virginians."


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