UPDATE: Soil samples taken as precaution in Eastern Panhandle ch - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Soil samples taken as precaution in Eastern Panhandle chemical leak

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BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV -

UPDATE 3 p.m., May 14:

Inspectors with the WV DEP were on site at U.S. Silica May 13 and 14 assessing the leak of sulfuric acid and caustic or petroleum sulfonate.

The leak occurred May 13 and it is estimated about 5,000 pounds of the acid, 3,000 pounds of caustic and 600 pounds of petroleum sulfonate were released into secondary containment.

A spokeswoman for DEP said the company will be conducting soil samples as a precaution. Although, they say the leak was contained in a secondary containment wall after an employee accidentally pulled a line loose with a loader as material was being transferred from a large tank to a smaller one.

While initial indications are that the material stayed within secondary containment, the company will conduct the soil samples to make sure nothing leached into the soil, DEP said.

The Environmental Protection Agency also has a representative on the spill site, officials said.

UPDATE 9 a.m., May 14:

The WV DEP received word the leak of two chemicals, the sulfuric acid and caustic, have been stopped. 
The company says the leak was contained by secondary containment, but the leak was ceased just before midnight on May 13.
Several adjacent buildings were evacuated due to the spill.

UPDATE, 8:40 p.m. May 13:
According to Kelley Gillenwater with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the sulfuric acid leak from a sand mine in the Berkeley Springs area of the Eastern Panhandle is still occurring.

However, the leak remains contained. 

Gillenwater said a contractor would be at the site at about 9 p.m. to assess the situation, and adjacent buildings were evacuated, but no injuries had occurred as a result of the leak.

UPDATE, 7:40 p.m. May 13:
Michael Lawson, a spokesperson for U.S. Silica, said the leak occurred when workers were transferring the acid from a larger tank to smaller vessel.

He said it was his understanding the hose became disconnected from the larger tank, creating a spill.

However, Lawson said if all of the contents of the tank would have leaked, everything would have still remained contained in the large concrete containment walls around it.

“There was no real immediate danger to contaminating groundwater,” he said. “No one was injured.

Lawson said the company was cooperating with local HAZMAT and EMS crews while they clean up the acid spill.

“There was no immediate danger to the local community,” he added.

He also said the acid would not mix with the rain that was falling over night in that area and get into the atmosphere.

“It is totally contained and (they are) working on fixing the leak,” Lawson said.

Original Story:
An unknown amount of sulfuric acid leaked from a sand mine in the Berkeley Springs area of the Eastern Panhandle this afternoon, officials said.

According to officials the leak took place just before 3 p.m. May 13.

The mine, according to DEP spokeswoman Kelly Gillenwater, stores 53,000 pounds of sulfuric acid on the site.

However, it is unknown how much sulfuric acid leaked.

Gillenwater said when sulfuric acid reacts with the air it can form a cloud in the air. The leak happened as a result of a line break, according to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

“Last I heard they are trying to isolate the broken line,” Gillenwater said.

DEP said the leak was contained to secondary containment and local emergency responders were determining if evacuation of the area was necessary.

DEP sent a representative from its Romney field office to assess the leak.

U.S. Silica, where the leak occurred, is an “innovator in industrial silica products and solutions, and a rapidly growing market share as a supplier to domestic oil and natural gas operations that support the nation’s economic strength and energy independence,” according to its website.