CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Commission says they have hired an independent lab, ALS, to process test samples from Paint Creek, following the chemical spill that resulted from a tractor-trailer crash in August 2022.
Commissioners say they will hire an environmental consultant to recommend locations where samples should be taken and to be present for the testing. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the Kanawha County Emergency Management and the Fayette County Health Department will work together to collect samples, which will then be sent to ALS, an independent lab the commission hired to process the samples.
The commission says ALS has told them they will be ready to process the samples in approximately three weeks. Commissioners say Kanawha County and Fayette County officials will split the cost of the additional testing.
According to the commission, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ordered the trucking company, Gadsden, Gaillard and West, LLC, to monitor the site of the spill in both dry weather and after rain events. In response, Gadsden, Gaillard and West, LLC. hired a company called Potesta to observe the area.
Kanawha County Commissioners say officials from Potesta went to Paint Creek on Jan. 17, 2023 and allegedly saw foam near boulders on a hillside, “observed a chemical smell,” and sent photos to the WVDEP. The commission says they have sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the DEP to access those photos.
During the Kanawha County Commission meeting on Feb 2, Fayette County Health Department officials were present and stated that they have also documented foam in the area.
Officials say they plan to contact homeowners in the affected area to keep them informed of the plans for testing and what is documented.
The commission says the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has informed them they are ready to restock the creek once it is safe to do so.
In January, the Kanawha County Commission filed a lawsuit against Gadsden, Gaillard and West, LLC. over the spill. On Aug. 24, 2022, Dennis West, was the driving for the trucking company when his truck crashed on the West Virginia Turnpike near Pax, causing the chemical spill and closing part of the West Virginia Turnpike for nearly 20 hours.
Commissioners say the chemical that spilled into Skitter Creek, which flows into Paint Creek, was a surfactant called Empigen AS/F90, which is not soluble in water. The spill created what the commission calls a “safety hazard and public nuisance” that negatively impacted residents and property in the area. They say it killed more than 30,000 fish and polluted the drinking water for people in the area.
West was arrested on suspicion of DUI following the crash, authorities said.