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West Virginia Chemical Spill: Water Is Now Safe to Drink

Tom Hindman/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, W. Va.) -- After five days forsaking showers and brushing their teeth with bottled water, an estimated 300,000 residents around Charleston, W. Va., will once again have access to safe tap water.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Monday a "do not use" order is being lifted in zones after extensive testing deemed the water safe to drink.

Officials said the ban was being lifted in a "strict, methodical manner" to ensure the water system isn't overwhelmed with demand. Customers are also being advised by West Virginia American Water to flush out their pipes before using tap water again.

Over the weekend, FEMA handed out more than 2 million liters of fresh water, while residents said many grocery store shelves remained stocked with bottles of water for purchase.

West Virginia's water woes began on Thursday when thousands of gallons of a licorice-smelling chemical used to process coal leaked into the Elk River, prompting the West Virginia American Water Company to issue a "do not use" order.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said it has sent an investigative team to the site of the spill to determine a cause.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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