Chem spill economic impact is $61 million, study says
Charleston, W.Va. -- The economic impact of the Jan. 9 chemical spill that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people is $61 million, according to a preliminary study.
The Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research conducted a preliminary investigation, which looked at establishments such as schools, medical offices, restaurants, hotels and some retail stores that needed clean water to provide service.
The CBER estimates the initial impact to be slightly more than $19 million for each business day during the "Do Not Use" water order issued for nine counties.
"This amounts to 24 percent of the economic activity of the affected area," a press release states.
In the four days following the ban, CBER estimates the total impact around $61 million, including two business days and two weekend days.
The study estimates the number of affected workers to be nearly 75,000 for each business day the ban was in place, representing about 41 percent of area workers.
Some were hit harder than others, the study shows.
"This high share is an indicator of the nature of the impacts, where the lower-wage, service-producing sector was more acutely impacted than higher-wage industries," the release states. "Establishments in the restaurant and lodging industries are less likely to recover lost revenues and are among those most affected by the inability to use water."
The study suggests state and local government and industries such as mining and construction to be unaffected.
The estimated impact does not include clean-up costs of the spill or emergency expenditures made as a result and thus does not represent the full economic impact, the release states.
A portion of the impact is permanently lost revenue and employee income that will not be recovered. Further analysis is needed to uncover the full effect, the release states.
Last week, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau told The Charleston Gazette financial losses from only 12 businesses are totaling $1 million.