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.

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  • Mason County Contrarian

    Ignore those fish with three eyes.

  • Larry

    The fact that it hasn't killed any fish really confirms my belief that it was never really a threat to humans, go away Erin Brockovich.

  • Ramona

    What about the other wildlife on the river? Ducks, Herons, Beavers, etc. there is a lot of wildlife it could effect.

  • Skeptic

    Not that odd. The chemical in question has a specific gravity less than 1, which means it would float on the water. There would be some mixing that occurs. The detect ability of human smell can identify the chemical at anything over .1 ppm. So it would take very little to notice it in the water. The WVAW says the concentration in the water system as of today is 1.7 ppm. The cold weather keeping the fish on the bottom and the light weight of the chemical probably saved us an ecological disaster as well.

    • Shadow

      I wonder what the coliform count is and relative to spec? If the dilution of this chemical is down to 1.7 ppm that is way below the acceptable level of a lot of real poisonous chemicals.

    • jss

      Skeptic, so are in favor of drinking water pollution and God help the fish?

  • TS

    So...ARE there any LIVE fish? Huh?

  • Gun Dog

    Let us hope that the cold water had a lot to do with the fish not being killed. One thing I know is that Jeff Hansbarger can flat out find fish, especially in the Elk and the New. We may have been extremely lucky to not see a huge fish kill.

    • Leon

      Odd the chemical stays on top surface not affecting fish. Where are intakes for water company ? Surface or deep water ?

      • wvtd

        you would think they would be deep enough to be below the water line during the summer when the river is at it's lowest point. no matter how we look at it its not good but I guess it could have been worse. time will tell and I pray all is well in the end for the creatures that live in and on the river and all of us who have been affected by this incident.