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Progress Being Made In Water Crisis But Much Work Remains

Reported: Jan. 15, 2014 6:48 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 15, 2014 7:04 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kennie Bass) - West Virginia-American Water says sampling continues at numerous points throughout the company's 3000-square mile service area spread across parts of nine counties.

30 teams have collected nearly 1000 test samples to determine if the water is safe to use.

"We have recovered approximately 51,000 customers which is more than half so we're making great progress," Laura Jordan, a spokeswoman for WVAWC said. "We were able to lift a couple more areas last night, even as late as midnight, lifted another one first thing this morning."

Those samples are being analyzed at five different labs. The Army National Guard has set up five additional mobile labs which are being used to check the water at the Charleston treatment plant.

Jordan says, including travel time, it takes between six to 12 hours to process the samples.

"Flushing and discoloration from flushing is not a timetable that we can predict," Jordan said. "We ask that all customers do this as part of the process of making sure that the water that goes through their plumbing and through their homes is also safe to drink. Meaning that it's already passed acceptable levels in our system but we want to make sure that it is in their plumbing."

The water company's president said samples from some of the more rural areas affected by the spill, including Boone County, are showing higher than acceptable levels of the chemical.

Until those numbers go down those zones won't be allowed to start flushing.

Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee manufactures the chemical, which is known in the industry as "hex-meth."

There have been reports the company has refused to release information about the chemical because of its proprietary nature.

Eyewitness News contacted Eastman Chemical and received the following statement:

"Eastman’s first concern is public safety and as soon as we were notified of the spill, we provided agencies as well as emergency responders with complete studies and product information so that they had all of the information necessary to respond to the situation.

These studies are considered proprietary and are not distributed publicly. Eastman provides this information confidentially to appropriate responders in the event of an emergency, such as the situation in Charleston."

Maranda Demuth
Corporate Communications
Eastman Chemical Company



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