TODAY   |  January 11, 2014

W. Virginia chemical spill leaves 300,000 without clean water

Several counties in West Virginia have been affected by a chemical spill. Residents do not have access to tap water, and reports of illness are expected to continue. NBC’s Luke Russert reports.

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>>> a state of emergency remains in effect this morning for some 300,000 people in west virginia who have been told not to use their water for anything but flushing their toilets. it all stems from a chemical spill near the capital city of charleston, where luke russert is this morning. luke, good morning.

>> reporter: hey, good morning, erica. 15% of the state's population this morning still does not have access to safe, accessible tap water , and that's something that is very problematic for a whole lot of people for many, many reasons. number one, here in the capital city of charleston, businesses have been forced to shut down, a lot of folks can't go in to work, and a lot of folks aren't even allowed to be able to grab the amount of water that they need from their own personal residences. on top of that, water distribution sites have been set up around the state in order to try and curtail some of the problems that have arised from this spill, and that will continue throughout the day. local officials hope to test the water to see if it becomes more diluted, the chemical that was introduced to it yesterday, but there is no clear indication as to whether or not that will be the case. and we're still waiting to see when exactly the water will be safe and accessible to the public again. freedom industries, the company that's responsible for this, they've had a few statements over the last few hours. a lot of folks here on the ground do not feel they have been apologetic enough. the state government has ordered them to move the remaining tanks with their chemicals back to a safe and secure area further away from the river. now, guys, a big problem with this has been illness. this chemical that's been introduced to the water has caused some vomiting, nausea with some folks. over 670 people called the west virginia center for disease control yesterday. that number is expected to probably continue today as more people report what they were exactly exposed to. the situation does not look like it's going to change at all, but a lot of folks here, especially the ones i've talked to, guys, life continues at a standstill until they have access to that clean, accessible tap water . erica?

>> tough go there. luke russert , thank you.