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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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January 16th, 2014
06:24 PM ET

Mayor: Company responsible for chemical leak run by 'renegades'

(CNN) - Health officials are advising pregnant women who live in the areas of West Virginia where a chemical leaked into the water supply last week to continue drinking bottled water.

"Due to limited availability of data, and out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to consider an alternative drinking water source for pregnant women until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a letter to West Virginia health officials.

The problem stemmed from a leak of several thousand gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol from a storage tank belonging to a company called Freedom Industries. That chemical, which is used in the coal industry, leaked out of a storage tank at a Freedom Industries facility, breached a concrete wall surrounding the tank, seeped into the soil, made its way to the Elk River, entered a water plant about a mile upstream and got into the water system.

Charleston, West Virginia, Mayor Danny Jones, a Republican, says Freedom Industries is run by "a small group of renegades."

"Somebody should have had a better handle on what was going on in those white tanks," Jones said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." "I never knew what was in them."

"This has been devastating for this area, for these nine counties and for my city," said Jones.

But the mayor does not advocate stricter regulations for the coal industry.

"I can't believe that what those folks did wasn't against the law, on its face," said Jones. "The wall was deficient. The tank had leaked for some time and somebody, apparently, dropped the ball. Most coal operations are safe, and they are as clean as coal is allowed to be."

For more of our interview with Mayor Danny Jones, check out the video above.

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