FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has released more details on the aftermath of a tractor-trailer crash that caused a chemical spill on Thursday.
The crash happened at in the hour between 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24 and 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25 near the 62.5 mile-marker of I-77 over the Skitter Creek Bridge, causing the West Virginia Turnpike to be shut down for nearly 20 hours. It reopened just before 8 p.m. after the West Virginia Parkways Authority moved the truck to an approved location and Clean Harbors was able to remediate the crash site.
According to the WVDEP, Clean Harbors returned today, Friday, Aug. 25 to resume pumping operations and remove the remaining chemical from the truck.
WVDEP staff are also on scene monitoring the process. They are also monitoring the nine miles of Paint Creek downstream from the spill site. Officials say they have not seen any material or foam on top of the water yet today, as was visible on Thursday.
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday identified the chemical the tractor-trailer was carrying as as Alkyl Dimethylamine, which is primarily used as a cleaning agent. According to the commission, the tractor-trailer had at least 12 totes of the solution, which held 275 gallons each. Officials say an environmental contractor will have to finish inspecting and remediating the site before they can determine the total amount of material being hauled and how much was spilled at the scene.
Kanawha County Commissioners say the solution is “very odorous” and described the smell as a “fish-like odor.” The commissioners also said the spill will have an impact to the aquatic life and water in the Paint Creek area. The WVDEP says fish kill believed to be connected to the spill has been observed in the area.
According to the Kanawha County Commission, those who live in the area are advised as a precaution to avoid contact with Paint Creek water until the materials are diluted.
The WVDEP has identified the truck as owned by Gadsden Gaillard and West, LLC. They say the company has been extremely helpful and responsive during the cleanup process.
Yesterday, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office announced the driver, Dennis Eugene West of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, was arrested and charged with DUI. Authorities say while speaking with West they smelled an “odor of an alcoholic beverage on the driver’s breath.” West allegedly failed his field sobriety tests according to the complaint.
West was arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken to the West Virginia State Police Turnpike Office in Beckley. According to the complaint, West agreed to a ECIR-II breath test, which returned a result of .128.