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Environmental health specialists from Kanawha and Fayette counties tested wells along Paint Creek following an Aug. 24 truck crash on the West Virginia Turnpike that spilled a chemical surfactant.
In letters mailed to Paint Creek residents, the Kanawha-Charleston and Fayette County health departments said there were trace amounts of the chemical detected in 19 hand-dug or shallow wells.
The tractor trailer was carrying containers with the surfactant Empigen AS/F90 when it crashed on I-64 spilling the chemical into Skitter Creek, which flows into Paint Creek. Fayette County Health Department and Kanawha-Charleston Health Department employees sampled 19 hand-dug and shallow wells for testing.
No chemical was found beyond the detection limit of 0.3 percent. These results do not reflect the overall safety of the wells that were sampled. They only indicate that the chemical spilled was not detected above that level in the wells that were tested.
Properly constructed private wells were not impacted by the spill. Consuming water from a hand-dug or shallow well is not recommended.
“These are not safe sources of drinking water,” said Dr. Steven Eshenaur, D.O., Kanawha-Charleston Health Department’s Health Officer.
“Representatives from both the Kanawha-Charleston and Fayette County health departments worked together to ensure that hand-dug or shallow wells in the area of the chemical spill were sampled and tested. This event reminds us of the importance of working as one to protect the public health of West Virginians across county lines,” Eshenaur said.
Dr. Anita Stewart, D.O., Fayette County Health Department’s Health Officer, agreed. “Our teams at both health departments — Fayette and Kanawha-Charleston — remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our communities, be it in response to a hazardous spill or providing resources during the latest infectious disease threat. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of the greater Paint Creek communities during this investigation.”
Empigen AS/F90 is also called cocamidopropyl dimethylamine. It is commonly used as a surfactant or antistatic agent, or in disinfectant, cosmetics or liquid dish soap. A few products listed as containing the chemical include Shaklee “Get Clean” Hand Dish Wash Liquid.
Concentrate, EWG Skin Deep Green People, Irritated Scalp Shampoo, and Paula’s Choice Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser.
Health officials said residents who have properly constructed private wells were not affected by the spill. The health departments recommend people avoid drinking water from hand-dug or shallow wells.
The West Virginia Turnpike was temporarily closed due to the crash.