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How Dangerous Is The Chemical Spilled Into West Virginia Waters?

 At a chemical plant near Charleston, W.V., a 48,000-gallon tank of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, was found to be leaking into the Elk River yesterday (January 9). The leak has put the drinking water of about 300,000 people in jeopardy, and officials have told residents in nine counties not to drink tap water. But just what is this chemical and how dangerous is it? 

MCHM is a solvent used to rinse coal. According to CNN:

The leaked chemical... is harmful if swallowed, said Thomas Aluise, a spokesman for the state's Department of Environmental Protection. It is used to wash coal before it goes to market.

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