Trusting the Water Again: Understanding the West Virginia Chemical Spill

On the morning of January 9, 2014, Charleston residents noticed that the air smelled like licorice and that the water tasted like it too. Inspectors soon traced the odor and taste to a chemical storage facility owned by a company called Freedom Industries. There, near the bank of the Elk River, inspectors discovered that a 48,000-gallon tank was leaking an industrial chemical called MCHM (methylcyclohexane methanol) used to cleanse coal.