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Latex spill will affect Shepherdstown

By Staff | Oct 2, 2015

Staff is busy working extra shifts at the Shepherdstown Public Works department preparing for the incoming latex spill on the Potomac River. The goal is to ensure that the water tanks are at 100 percent capacity so residents will have water on hand when needed.

The latest models released from the water department, dated Sept. 29, project that the spill will reach the Shepherdstown area by Thursday, Oct. 8, at approximately 5:13AM, and last a duration of 229 hours, with the peak concentration 72 hours after arrival.

The water dept. will start taking samples for the chemical spill Oct. 5th and will be checking them for 10 consecutive days to insure a prompt shutdown and restart. There is an emergency secondary water source available.

With all of the projected rainfall over the next several days, it is speculated that the spill could reach our area earlier than anticipated, but may be more diluted than originally anticipated.

“Any weather changes can drastically change the models,” stated Charles Coe, assistant chief operator of the Shepherdstown water department.

Officials with Public Works say (as of this publication time) they have not received any impact results from other areas in West Virginia where the spill has already hit.

However, the Maryland Department of the Environment stated water samples collected at a site near Cumberland, Maryland, showed no evidence of styrene, the primary constituent of concern, or butadiene. The water samples were submitted to and tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. The MDE maintains, at this time, there is no health concern based on its current information.

In Jefferson County, the Harpers Ferry Water Works will be affected. Paw Paw shut down its intake when the plume reached the town Sept. 27. To date, no fish kill has been reported in Paw Paw. Neither the Jefferson County Public Service District nor the Warm Springs Public Service District supply their customers from the Potomac River.

On Sept. 23, 10,000 gallons of synthetic latex used for paper coating at Verso paper mill spilled into the North Branch of the Potomac River in Luke, Maryland, over a four-hour period after off-loading of a rail car. The spill was discharged through their collection system to the UPRC plant.

Shepherdstown water department will post updates at the website www.shepherdstown.us as more information becomes available. Residents can also call for more information 304-876-2394

Journal staff writer, Samantha Cronk contributed to this article.