Economic Impact
1:58 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Businesses Lose $61 Million Because of Elk River Spill

Organization estimates money lost during chemical spill.

A local research group has calculated that roughly $61 million was lost by local businesses as a result of the chemical spill into the Elk River.

Signs like this one at Charleston Bread on Capitol Street illustrate how local businesses were forced to temporarily close in the wake of the Jan. 9 spill. They and other businesses soon reopened but they took a significant hit because of the water crisis.
Credit Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Center For Business and Economic Research at Marshall University conducted a preliminary investigation on the impact of the January 9th chemical spill into the Elk River. They wanted to see what the loss of water and the subsequent closing of restaurants and other businesses meant to the economic climate in the 9 counties effected by the water ban. And what all that meant for those that live on tips and pay-checks from week to week.

CBER estimates:

  • That for each day that the ban was fully in place $19 million was lost.
  • For the two business and weekend days, that number equals close to $61 million.
  • That's 24 percent of the economic activity in the 9 county area. 
  • Nearly 75,000 workers were effected, which represents 41 percent of area workers. 

According to CBER the high number is indicative of the type of businesses that were most affected, restaurants, bars and the like and the lower-wage, service-producing personnel that work at those facilities. She said it will take a while before even the businesses know what the ban will mean long-term.  

"Some of them will never be able to regain what they've lost from that first week or four days and some of them, their customers may come back stronger now." - Christine Risch, Director of Resource and Energy Economics

The estimated $61 million lost does not include the cost of cleaning up the spill or any emergency funds spent during spill.