West Virginia has begun partially lifting its ban on tap water five days after a chemical spill in the Elk River. More than 300,000 residents have been unable to use their water for drinking, cooking or bathing since Thursday, when the company Freedom Industries leaked up to 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (crude MCHM), an agent used in coal extraction, into the water supply. Scores of schools and businesses have been closed, including in the state capital, Charleston. The ban has been lifted in four zones so far, but is still in effect for a vast majority of residents. Dozens of people have been hospitalized since the spill, with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. We get reaction from Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. While a single mother of three working as a legal assistant, she helped win the biggest class action lawsuit in American history, holding the California power company Pacific Gas & Electric Company for polluting a city’s water supply. Her story was told in the Oscar-winning film “Erin Brockovich.” Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the spill in West Virginia. On Monday evening, she held a town hall meeting in Charleston to discuss the spill with local residents. “They’re banding together stronger than I’ve ever seen before,” Brockovich says of West Virginians self-organizing in the spill’s aftermath.
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