Fluoride Action Network

Martinsville to pay for spill of fluorosilicic acid from water department, fish kill

Source: Martinsville Bulletin | Bulletin Staff Writer
Posted on February 26th, 2012
Location: United States, Virginia

Martinsville owes the state almost $16,450 in penalties due to a chemical spill into Jones Creek last fall that resulted in thousands of dead fish.

When it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Martinsville City Council will consider authorizing Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki to make the payment and sign a related consent order.

The city must pay a $13,500 fine to the State Water Control Board. It also must reimburse the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality $2,001.21 for costs related to its investigation and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries $948.50 for replacing an estimated 4,445 fish, the order shows.

State officials arrived at the estimate using methodology of the American Fisheries Society, the order indicates.

The city negotiated a 30 percent reduction in the amount that the DEQ originally sought, according to City Attorney Eric Monday.

The consent order shows that on Oct. 18, state officials noticed a fish kill beginning at a storm drain outfall at the city’s water treatment plant and extending 2.3 miles to the confluence of Jones and Beaver creeks.

The fish kill coincided with a release two days earlier of fluorosilicic acid — also known as fluoride — which entered Jones Creek from the storm drain at the treatment plant, according to the order.

It shows the release stemmed from the failure of a transfer pump and a valve inadvertently being left open.

Fluoride, a chemical version of the element fluorine, is used in many public water supplies to help prevent tooth decay.

The water control board determined that the acid spill caused the fish kill and the city violated state code, the consent order shows.

Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki said Saturday he did not have information at home on what types of fish were involved, but he said they were small and likely were washed out to the Smith River.

The city is taking steps to make sure such a spill does not occur again, the order indicates. Those measures have not been disclosed…