Kanawha Eagle is now under a DEP-issued Imminent Harm Cessation Order (IHCO) issued soon after the spill, the agency said, for creating conditions not allowable in state waters; the DEP is also overseeing cleanup operations.
The order, halting all plant work barring clean-up efforts, remains in effect until Patriot eliminates potential for further pollution. The spill, which began at 2:30 a.m. on February 11, is believed to have emanated from a faulty slurry pipeline valve.
Company officials estimate 108,000 gallons of slurry entered Fields Creek, impacting six miles of the tributary; Fields Creek empties into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
Kanawha Eagle operators discovered the spill around 5:30 a.m. and shut down the slurry pumps, which remain inactive; state Emergency Spill Line officials were notified at 7:42 a.m. “The company has installed check dams, or barriers, throughout Fields Creek to slow the flow of the stream, drop solids and clear the water,” the DEP said in a statement. “Solids are then pumped from the stream using vac trucks; barriers include rock, hay bales and silt fencing.”
In addition, Patriot is pumping water from the stream near the prep plant into settling ponds. Once clear, a creek evaluation will determine how residual material will be removed; the company is also required to perform an aquatic life assessment.
The spill is not expected to have a major impact on the Kanawha River, however, said DEP officials. The agency said that evidence of slurry was observed in the Kanawha River, one-half mile downstream from the mouth of Fields Creek, but dissipated shortly after.
The DEP also noted that the nearest surface water public intake downstream is in Huntington, 115 stream miles away. The nearest ground water public intake downstream, meanwhile, lies in Mason, 75 miles from the spill site.
“Mason draws its public water from groundwater, but has the potential to pull some river water through soils into its intake,” agency officials said. “Huntington and Mason water officials were notified of the spill; Ohio EPA and industrial water users downstream were notified as well.”