CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A day after the chemical spill in Kanahwa County left more than 100,000 without water the DNR was on the scene to investigate the impact on the Elk River. The impact on the fish in the Elk appeared minimal.
An unknown amount of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methane leaked into the Elk River from the Freedom Industries plant. The location of the spill was approximately a mile above the West Virginia American Water Treatment Plant and a couple of miles from the confluence with the Kanahwa River.
“I showed up at dawn this morning in Charleston and looked around the site of the plant,” said Jeff Hansbarger, District Fisheries Biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “I hit that place all the way down to the mouth and haven’t seen one dead fish.”
Hansbarger said he was familiar with the location and had actually fished the river in front of the plant many times. He surmised it was possible the cold weather could also have played a role.
“A lot of them are down near the bottom right now,” Hansbarger said. “It might be hard to find them. I’ve handed out my card to a number of people working along the river to give me a call if they see them floating by later in the day.”
West Virginia American Water Company indicated in their analysis of the contaminant it was not a material which would settle to the bottom, but rather floated along the surface. Hansbarger admitted that may have worked in the fish’s favor.
“That could maybe lend itself to not being quite as harmful for the fish anyway,” he said.
Anyone who notices dead fish on the Elk or Kanawha River is asked to contact the West Virginia DNR at (304) 675-0871.