Observation Number 1645

Incident ID 1645
Date2014-09-28 01:46:59
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Incident Description: August 23, 2013 — New evidence shows alarmingly high levels of zinc flowing into the New River, raising serious concerns about the health of the river and the impact of the pollution on surrounding communities. It also highlights reluctance by the Department of Environmental Quality to respond to the problem in a timely manner. Since at least January of this year, a frightening amount of zinc has been flowing directly into the New River by way of Indian Branch in Wythe County, Va. The upper part of Indian Branch near its source is also known as Buddle Branch. According to the EPA, the safe limit for zinc in fresh water is 120 ug/L, or 120 micrograms per liter. A quarterly water test conducted by Austinville Limestone Company on January 7, 2013 and received by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on January 9 indicated the level of zinc in Indian Branch was 3900 ug/l, more than 30 times the safe limit. The same test conducted on April 5 revealed the level of recoverable zinc had reached 8980 ug/L, approximately 75 times the safe limit. The most recent test results received by the DEQ on July 5 revealed the level of zinc in Indian Branch had risen to 15,700 ug/l. The source of the zinc is a field of mine tailings dumped over a period of several decades by the New Jersey Zinc Company. New Jersey Zinc mining and smelting sites at De Pue, IL, Palmerton, PA, and the Eagle Mine in Eagle County, CO. are listed as EPA Superfund sites. New Jersey Zinc closed its Wythe County mine in 1981.The field is currently owned by Dixon Lumber Company of Galax, VA. Because of environmental concerns, on June 3, 1994 Dixon Lumber was ordered by the Virginia State Water Control Board and the DEQ to remove the tailings pile and restore all disturbed areas, including any affected waterways by June 1, 1999. In 1999 this deadline was extended to June 1, 2008. In 2008 it was again extended to the current deadline of June 1, 2015. The order also gave the DEQ the authority to cease removal of the tailings and order corrective actions if any water quality samples indicated that discharge from the site contained elevated levels of dissolved metals. DEQ representatives provided no response to emails asking if it was common practice for the DEQ to grant an additional 15 years to comply with their orders. Despite numerous complaints from concerned local citizens funneled through various agencies and elected representatives, the DEQ failed to conduct a single water test. As a result of the inaction of the DEQ, at least a foot of zinc laced mine sludge now lines the banks of Indian Branch. The same condition exists where Indian Branch empties into the New River. At the very least the DEQ should order Dixon Lumber to remove the buildup of mine sludge from Indian Branch and New River. No such order has been made and no fines or penalties have been levied against Dixon Lumber because of the spill. Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/appalachian-chronicles/2013/aug/23/zinc-poisons-appalachias-new-river/#ixzz3EZFngYWF http://www.jeffersonpost.com/news/home_top-news/2524531/New-River-zinc-warning-not-applied-to-Ashe-County http://www.911metallurgist.com/blog/high-zinc-levels-are-poisoning-the-new-river Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/appalachian-chronicles/2013/aug/23/zinc-poisons-appalachias-new-river/#ixzz3EZFW3OAd Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/appalachian-chronicles/2013/aug/23/zinc-poisons-appalachias-new-river/#ixzz3EZFC0BX2 Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/appalachian-chronicles/2013/aug/23/zinc-poisons-appalachias-new-river/#ixzz3EZEye9Gt Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/appalachian-chronicles/2013/aug/23/zinc-poisons-appalachias-new-river/#ixzz3EZElNTBN Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter


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