Two credit unions remain closed Monday after officials in West Virginia banned the use of tap water.
On Thursday night, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for more than 300,000 people not to use tap water for drinking, washing or bathing in nine counties after a coal-processing chemical leaked into the Elk River. The ban included the area around Charleston, the state capital.
The water contamination forced the closing of many schools, businesses and government offices.
Ken Watts, president/CEO of the West Virginia Credit Union League in Parkersburg, said WVCUL contacted all 22 credit unions located within the nine counties affected by the water crisis.
“We found there were two that were unable to open Friday and remain closed today,” Watts said.
Those credit unions are the $10.9 million Putnam School Employees Federal Credit Union in Eleanor, W.V., and the $9 million Charleston Federal Credit Union in Charleston.
WVCUL’s office was not affected by the water ban.
The other 20 cooperatives did not close their branches because the water ban does not affect the use of toilets. In lieu of tap water to wash their hands, employees are using hand sanitizers.
“There is some concern about what the economic impact is going to be for later on, especially for small businesses that have been unable to remain open,” Watts said. “Other than that, there have not been any noticeable changes.”
West Virginia state officials indicated on Monday the tap water ban may be lifted soon.
Over the weekend, tests showed that levels of the licorice-smelling chemical were consistently below a toxic threshold, and in some samples, there was no trace of the chemical at all, according to the Associated Press.
If these tests continue to show the water is safe, the ban is expected to be lifted in waves for specific areas, the first of which would be in downtown Charleston, said West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre. However, he gave no timetable for when people could start using the water again.
The chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River, the Associated Press reported.