CHARLESTON, WV (CNN) – CNN has learned a criminal investigation is now underway in the chemical spill in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without water in West Virginia.
A federal grand jury is investigating both Freedom Industries, the company that had the chemical storage facility, and the water company that's responsible for filtering and delivering clean water to residents.
Sources say the federal investigation will focus on the leak of the coal-cleaning chemical from a tank on the shores of the Elk River, how it ended up in the river and how it got into the water supply.
CNN commissioned an environmental testing company called Test America to gauge the level of harmful chemicals in both the river and in the homes of people who gave CNN permission to test water coming right out of their kitchen taps.
The tests show trace amounts of the chemical MCHM still remain in all the water samples well within the safety level set by the Centers for Disease Control. But, the two women whose water was tested both say they aren't using tap water and they may never again.
"There's just not a lot of information out there about this," said West Virginia resident Emily Chittenden-Laird. "Yes, it may not kill us, but I'm concerned about my kids 20 years from now."
"We're concerned about what's in it, we've heard about by-products of the original chemical," said Charleston, WV resident Karan Ireland. "We still smell it, occasionally."
Despite assurances that the tap water in tens of thousands of homes in is fine to drink, an overflow crowd packed the ornate West Virginia House of Delegates chambers Monday night.
All of the citizens had the same concern – is the water really safe? Do the people testing the water really know? Most importantly, why are 300,000 people afraid they are living in what one person called "chemical valley"?
The CEO of the West Virginia American Water Company, Jeff McIntyre, also appeared in public for the first time since a few days after the spill.
McIntyre told a House committee that testing showed the levels of harmful chemicals in the Elk River were below dangerous levels and that his company was putting "good quality water" into people's homes and businesses.
"I'm using it, my wife is using it, my employees are using it [and] many people I have talked to are in fact using it," McIntyre said.
Only a few miles away, though, the head of the county health department Dr. Rahul Gupta said only a handful of people were using tap water.
In two surveys conducted by his office, Gupta said barely one percent of those who responded said they were using tap water. Everyone else was relying on bottled water, including his own family.
"I have drank the water, but my wife, who is also a physician, has told me I better not be drinking the water," Gupta said.
The chemical was never meant to be ingested, so its impact on humans isn't known, and it may take months and even years before people in Charleston, WV think its safe to drink the water again.
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