Water tests after a chemical spill in West Virginia are encouraging, the governor said, but it's unclear when people might be able to use their taps again.
About 300,000 residents in nine counties in the southwest section of the state can't use tap water.
"Our team has been diligent in testing samples from throughout the affected area. The numbers look good and, like last night, they are very encouraging. I believe that we're at a point where we can say that we see light at the end of the tunnel," West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told reporters Sunday.
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water - a company affected by the spill - said that officials will begin lifting the water bans by zone. Certain areas will be prioritized, including downtown Charleston, but decisions will also depend on test results.
He declined to put a timeline on when the do-not-use orders will be lifted.
"I don't believe we're several days from starting to lift, but I'm not saying today," McIntyre said.
Officials have warned water customers to watch for symptoms of exposure to the chemical, which is used to clean coal, such as skin irritation, nausea, vomiting or wheezing.
Karen Bowling, secretary of the state's Department of Health and Human Resources, said Sunday that more than 1,000 people had called the West Virginia Poison Center, concerned about their exposure to contaminated water. There have also been more than 60 animal exposures reported.
A total of 10 people have been admitted to three hospitals, none in serious or critical condition, and 169 patients have been treated and released from emergency rooms, Bowling said.
Water restrictions were imposed Thursday after it was discovered that about 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal - 4-methylcyclohexane methanol - had leaked out of a storage tank a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant.
Residents were told to use bottled water to wash hands, brush teeth or take showers.
The federal Department of Homeland Security sent 16 tractor-trailer loads of bottled water to help and the water company also provided truckloads.
The medical impact was hard to assess.
"We've had a lot of worried-well calls," Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department said over the weekend. He cited complaints of irritation of the skin, throat, chest and stomach that some residents have linked to possible exposure.
The unknowns made residents anxious.
"They don't even know what the health risks are," Stacy Kirk of Culloden told CNN affiliate WSAZ. "We had bathed, cooked and everything right before the news came on yesterday."
"I don't know anything about the chemical to say too much good or bad about it, so we're all up in the air," said Arthur Taylor. "We're common folks - we're not chemists."
Just days after dismissing two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.
CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family.
The news couldn't come at a worse time for the scandal-plagued Republican, who is facing two probes into whether his staff tied up traffic near the country's busiest bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his successful re-election bid.
If the Sandy inquiry finds any wrongdoing, it could prove even more damaging to Christie's national ambitions. His performance during and after the superstorm has been widely praised and is a fundamental part of his straight-shooting political brand.
In the new probe, federal auditors will examine New Jersey's use of $25 million in Sandy relief funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore after Sandy decimated the state's coastline in late 2012, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN
In an August letter, Pallone asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general to look into how Christie chose to spend the marketing money approved by the department.
Neither the governor's office nor the inspector general's office has replied to CNN's request for comment on the investigation.
Pallone wrote that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm awarded the marketing plan; the winning firm is charging the state about $2 million more than the next lowest bidder. The winning $4.7 million bid featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies.
On Sunday, Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review of the spending and concluded that there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state's use of federal funds. The audit will take several months, and the findings will be issued in an official report, he said.
Pallone, a 27-year veteran of the House and vocal Christie critic, said this is not about politics.
"This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. And, as you know, many of my constituents still haven't gotten the money that is owed them to rebuild their homes or raise their homes or to help," he told CNN.
Democrats slammed Christie over the summer for starring in taxpayer-funded ads as he was running for re-election in November, arguing it gave him an unfair advantage. Christie aides said at the time that the winning bid provided more value.
Last week, Christie dismissed two top aides for their involvement in closing down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last year, a move that tied up traffic for four days. A New Jersey State Assembly committee is investigating whether the aides ordered the lane closures as political retribution, and the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has opened a probe into the matter.
For his part, Christie has said he didn't know about the scheme and was "embarrassed and humiliated" by it. Democrats, both in New Jersey and nationally, have jumped on the scandal, saying it finally gives the nation an opportunity to see what they've known for years, that Christie is a bully who governs by fear.
But as bad as the bridge scandal is for Christie, if investigators find he improperly spent Sandy funds, it could get far worse, tarnishing the signature achievement that has made him a serious contender for the White House.
Here the is on-the-record response from Gov. Christie:
“The Stronger Than The Storm campaign was just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama Administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy. Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We're confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”
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