CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Environmental health specialists from the Fayette County and Kanawha-Charleston health departments are continuing to monitor the waters of and around Paint Creek after a tractor-trailer crash spilled chemicals into the water in August.
Officials from the health department say the environmental health specialists hand delivered and mailed letters today, Oct. 24, 2022, to residents of the Paint Creek area whose water wells they tested for the chemical, Empigen AS/F90.
According to officials from the health departments, the letters detailed the results of tests conducted on 19 hand-dug and shallow wells in the area. The health departments say “no chemical was found beyond the detection limit of 0.3%.”
However, officials urged residents to be aware these results “do not reflect the overall safety of the wells that were sampled.” The results are only an indicator of the chemical spilled from the crash.
The health officials say they do not recommend consuming water from the hand-dug or shallow wells.
“These are not safe sources of drinking water,” said Dr. Steven Eshenaur, D.O., Health Officer for the KCHD. “Representatives from both the Kanawha-Charleston and Fayette County health departments worked together to ensure that hand-dug or shallow wells in the area of the chemical spill were sampled and tested. This event reminds us of the importance of working as one to protect the public health of West Virginians across county lines.”
According to the health departments, private wells that had been “properly constructed” were not impacted by the spill.
“Our teams at both health departments, Fayette and Kanawha-Charleston, remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our communities, be it in response to a hazardous spill or providing resources during the latest infectious disease threat,” said Dr. Anita Stewart, D.O., Health Officer for the Fayette County Health Department. “We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the greater Paint Creek communities during this investigation.
According to the health departments, Empigen AS/F90 is also known as cocamidopropyl dimethylamine and is commonly used as a surfactant or antistatic agent in liquid dish soap, cosmetics or disinfectants.
The Empigen AS/F90 spilled into Skitter Creek, which flows into Paint Creek in Fayette County just below Paint Creek Falls. The crash happened on I-64 in the early morning hours of Aug. 24, 2022, shutting down the West Virginia Turnpike for nearly 20 hours. The driver was charged with DUI in the crash.
Earlier this month, residents of the Paint Creek area told WOWK 13 News Reporter Rachel Pellegrino that while Kanawha County Commissioners said the chemical was not detected in the waters of Paint Creek after a recent round of testing, they’re still seeing the water foam after it rains.
Kanawha County is also involved in a lawsuit with the company who whose product was spilled.