Over a hundred West Virginia residents were treated by the hospital over the weekend, days after the local utility finished flushing the water system and lifted the ban imposed after a toxic coal cleaner was spilled in the region’s water supply.
“More than 400 people have been treated in 10 hospitals since Jan. 9,” when the spill occured, Al Jazeera reports. “At least 100 of those entered hospitals within the past two days.”
Further, nearly 1,600 additional residents have placed calls to poison control with complaints of symptoms including red, itchy skin, eye irritation, vomiting and diarrhea.
On Friday, West Virginia American Water completed the process of flushing the affected areas and announced that the water was once again safe to drink and use. Despite giving the ‘all-clear,’ the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that, “out of an abundance of caution,” pregnant women should continue to drink bottled water.
“You know we deserve fresh drinking water. We deserve clean water,” West Virginia resident Stephanie Devaney told local news broadcaster WCHS/CNN.
Devaney was one of several dozen residents who gathered outside the state capitol in Charleston Saturday to demand answers and accountability regarding the contaminated water supply. “We will stand up for ourselves. We’re not going to back down,” she added.
“If they were a nonprofit or not-for profit, would they have turned the water back on this fast?” protester Josh Scott asked, referring to the private utility West Virginia American Water (WVAW) and Freedom Industries, the coal processing plant from which the toxic detergent 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (or MCHM) leaked.
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