We are talking about the chemical spill near Charleston, West Virginia. The better term may be "chemicals spill," because the storage tank belonging to Freedom Industries Inc. was leaking a mixture called 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, shorthanded as "crude MCHM." The company reported the spill on January 9, and it quickly became clear that Freedom Industries had no idea how long there had been a leak and no idea how much crude MCHM had escaped the storage tank.
To make matters worse, the crude MCHM was leaking into the Elk River, a primary source of drinking water for Charleston. The state warned 300,000 residents not to use the water for anything other than flushing toilets. The ban lasted for days as the company and the state scrambled to learn more about the chemicals and how to deal with the emergency. The ban was in place for four or five days, but residents were turning up at emergency rooms weeks later with health problems that could have been related to crude MCHM exposure.