Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Southington Seeks Reimbursement For Response To Hexavalent Chromium Chemical Leak at Southington Light Metals cleanup.

Bill Leukhard

Now that the chemical cleanup at a Spring Street factory is done, the town is seeking compensation for its work at the site.

"I'm confident we will be fully reimbursed," Town Manager Garry Brumback said Tuesday.

Town fire, police and public works personnel were among those who responded to the Aug. 24 plumbing leak of 300 gallons of water tainted with hexavalent chromium at the Light Metals Coloring factory.

The first reimbursement check – $29,000 to the fire department – has been received, fire Chief Harold Clark told the town council on Monday. It's not clear how much compensation other town agencies will seek from Light Metals.

Brumback said the company is self-insured and has been cooperative and helpful with town and other officials since the leak. The chemical was forced up onto the factory roof by a plumbing malfunction. It spilled off the roof on the grounds and flowed onto Graham Place and into a catch basin.

Town, state and federal agencies were at the scene for several days. Workers took soil and water samples as others replaced the company roof, cleaned pipes and gutters, removed topsoil and pavement, and checked drains that empty into the Quinnipiac River for traces of the carcinogenic industrial chemical. All materials removed from the site were sealed securely for shipping for safe disposal.

Tests of samples found no trace of the chemical getting into the river or into private and municipal wells. As a precaution, the town stopped using two wells located 2 miles and 5 miles from the spill site. Both wells were reopened once tests of well water found no hint of the chemical.

"The cleanup is complete," Clark told the council on Monday night. "All detectable chromium was removed."

Water samples will be taken sporadically to make sure no chromium is getting into the wells, town officials have said. But the chance of this is slight, from what tests have shown.

"Not once did we find any detectable [hexavalent chromium] in water," Clark told the council.

Council members said the cleanup was quick, thorough and without problems, resulting in quick containment.

"It could have been much, much worse," council member Victoria Triano said.


Chemical spill cleanup continues in Southington, DEEP warns not to eat fish from parts of Quinnipiac River
by FOX 61 Staff, Updated at 08:01pm, August 25, 2016

SOUTHINGTON, CT -- Crews spent most of Thursday cleaning up a chemical spill near metal plating company, Light Metal Coloring, Inc., located off of Spring Street inside the Graham Place industrial plaza in Southington.

The spill happened at around 10 a.m. Wednesday, and cleanup continued Thursday. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said about 350 gallons of hexavalent chromimum was accidentally released from a tank on the roof of the Light Metal Coloring, Inc. building. The chemical then spilled over the roof, into the parking lot, and into a drainage system that leads to the Quinnipiac River.

The leak seems to have occurred because of a crack in the pipe leading to the company's broiler.

Now, the extent of damage to the water supply is being examined through testing.

“We recommend that people not eat any fish taken from the Quinnipiac between West Queen Street and downstream to Route 10 – South Main Street – in Southington until we have an opportunity to determine the extent of any lingering contamination in the river resulting from a chemical release yesterday,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen.

"At this point, we want people to do a catch and release only for all aquatic life in the river in this immediate area and basically to avoid the riverbank regardless," added Jeff Chandler, who works for DEEP as well.

The Rt. 10, or South Main Street, portion of the river is downstream from where the Eight Mile River flows into the Quinnipiac and adds a significant volume of new water to it.

“This product doesn’t have an easy decontamination solution. So this point clean harbor is removing 5,000 square feet of roof from the building along with one lane of the roadway,” said Ken LeClerc, Emergency Response Coordinator with DEEP.

However, the fact that we've been experiencing dry weather has helped reduce the chemical's flow through the storm drains.

"It was helpful in the fact that there was not a major flow of water moving through the catch basin at work at the time of the release," said Chandler. "So really it was only mobile on its own power."

They will also need to set up a sampling schedule for testing the affected areas, particularly the banks of the river.

“It will have the potential to have a fish kill. We want to stress we haven’t seen evidence of it so far. There is no drinking wells in the area. There is no hazard to the public. We are wetting down areas where we are excavating . we also have the personal air monitors in the area we are monitoring on going to make sure to anyone in the other industrial buildings in the area," said LeClerc.

The fear is what the chemical could do to humans if ingested.

"It's a carcinogen," said Chandler. "It attacks the liver, attacks your skin, attacks your lungs."

However, the impact to drinking water was minimal. While the town of Southington closed two water wells located a half mile away from the spill earlier in the day, the town's water department reopened them.

Southington officials said there were a handful of private wells in the area and those residents have been notified and sampling is being conducted on those properties.

If you're concerned, check to see if your water has a greenish tint to it. That is one sign of the presence of hexavalent chromium.