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Recreation advisory lifted for Tinker Creek

By Jennifer.Underwood@deq.virginia.gov (Jennifer Underwood) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

RICHMOND, VA. The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have updated the information available on the status of Tinker Creek in Botetourt County following a fish kill on July 29.

On Monday, August 7th, DEQ water monitoring staff collected additional water samples from Tinker CreekSampling locations ranged from the vicinity of the spill downstream to the Route 24 bridge across Tinker Creek near the confluence with the Roanoke River.

Water samples were analyzed by the Department of General Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. Results showed no evidence of the spilled chemical, Termix 5301.

Based upon the results of this latest round of water samples, the Virginia Department of Health is lifting the ban on recreational activities in Tinker Creek. For information on safe swimming in recreational waters please visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

Recreation advisory lifted for Tinker Creek

By Jennifer.Underwood@deq.virginia.gov (Jennifer Underwood) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

RICHMOND, VA. The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have updated the information available on the status of Tinker Creek in Botetourt County following a fish kill on July 29.

On Monday, August 7th, DEQ water monitoring staff collected additional water samples from Tinker CreekSampling locations ranged from the vicinity of the spill downstream to the Route 24 bridge across Tinker Creek near the confluence with the Roanoke River.

Water samples were analyzed by the Department of General Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services. Results showed no evidence of the spilled chemical, Termix 5301.

Based upon the results of this latest round of water samples, the Virginia Department of Health is lifting the ban on recreational activities in Tinker Creek. For information on safe swimming in recreational waters please visit www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

Update on status of Tinker Creek

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality have updated the information available on the status of Tinker Creek in Botetourt County following a fish kill on July 29.

-- The agencies are continuing their recommendation that people stay away from Tinker Creek, from just west of Route 11/Lee Highway, across from Southern States Cooperative in Cloverdale, downstream to the mouth of Tinker Creek at the Roanoke River.

-- Water test results have been analyzed and show a very low amount of the chemical Termix 5301 in the creek. This amount of the chemical is not considered harmful.

-- Additional water samples will be collected Monday, August 7, and results are expected later in the week. A decision will be made then as to whether the advisory on Tinker Creek should remain.

-- DEQ has completed its count of fish that died as a result of the spill. The total is 40,198, which includes sunfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, darters, multiple species of minnow, margined madtoms, bullhead catfish and suckers. Though there have been a few larger fish kills in Virginia, this is considered a significant incident.

-- The company responsible for the spill, Crop Production Services, has continued to cooperate fully with DEQ and has taken numerous actions to address the fish kill.

Tinker Creek fish kill: questions and answers

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

-- Where was the fish kill?

The kill began along a tributary to Tinker Creek in Cloverdale, and continued downstream into Roanoke County. DEQ biologists determined that the downstream extent of the kill was between Clearwater Avenue and Hollins Road in Cloverdale.

-- What caused the fish kill?

An agricultural-use chemical leaked from a container on the property of Crop Production Services located at 218 Simmons Drive in Cloverdale. Rain washed an estimated 165 gallons of the chemical into Tinker Creek.

-- What was the chemical?

The chemical, Termix 5301, is a type of surfactant (detergent-like substance) that is added to herbicide and pesticide products before application. The chemical is not a herbicide or a pesticide.

-- Is the creek safe for residents to use now?

Residents should continue to avoid use of the creek until further notice.

-- How will you know when the creek is safe for residents to use?

The creek is being monitored for the presence or absence of chemicals. Information will be communicated to residents once the creek is safe for recreation.

-- Is there an elevated health risk to the public following this leak?

At this time the chemical release has been contained, and there are no reports of public exposure. Only those individuals who came into direct contact with the chemical or were in the immediate area of the creek would have a potentially elevated risk of exposure. State and local agencies continue to monitor the situation.

-- What should I do if I'm concerned about potential exposure?

The chemical may pose a health risk only at high concentrations. It may be harmful if swallowed or touches the skin; it may cause skin burns and eye damage. If you are concerned about potential exposure, contact your physician, the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) or the Roanoke City Health Department (540-283-5050).

-- What caused the container to leak?

The container had a small puncture, about one-third of the way from the bottom of the tank. The cause of the damage to the container is under investigation.

-- Why were residents told to avoid Tinker Creek?

Early in the incident, the cause of the fish kill was not known. Residents were advised to avoid Tinker Creek out of an abundance of caution and to allow the response and investigation to proceed.

-- I have a well located close to Tinker Creek. Is my well at risk due to this spill?

Risk to wells along Tinker Creek is extremely low. This is because water in Tinker Creek originates from surface runoff (rain) and from groundwater that discharges from the banks of the creek (seeps). This is how creeks and rivers continue to flow between rain events. Wells are, in general, at greater risk from oil and chemical spills occurring on the land in proximity to the well.

-- Will I know if my well is impacted? What will happen if my well becomes contaminated?

Unless a well is located close to Tinker Creek and is already impacted by surface water, it should not be affected by this release. Wells that may be affected would be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

-- How many fish were killed?

Surveys conducted by biologists have not determined yet how many fish were killed. Initial estimates are that the number may be in the tens of thousands. This includes all sizes and types of fish, including sunfish, rock bass and smallmouth bass, large suckers, and many smaller species such as minnows and darters.

-- What will happen to all the dead fish?

Fish kills, even large ones, occur due to natural causes as well. The fish will begin to decompose and also will float downstream, which likely will lead to several days of unpleasantness along Tinker Creek. However, the stream will recover from the kill and life will return.

-- Were other animals killed?

Yes, there were dead crayfish. The investigation team will note if any other animals were affected.

-- How will this chemical be cleaned up?

In the area where the spill occurred, remaining product is being removed and soils contaminated by the product are being excavated and disposed of. The product that entered Tinker Creek is unrecoverable because it mixes with the water. DEQ returned to check the stream on Sunday, July 30, and the foaminess and cloudy appearance caused by the product had almost completely disappeared. Some residual foam may be noticeable in areas where the stream goes over riffles, rapids and dams, as the material mixes with the air and water.

-- My pet drank or swam in Tinker Creek when there were dead fish present. What should I do?

Where the material was present in the water, the stream exhibited a cloudy appearance and heavy white foam. Bathing with soap and clean water should remove the material from the skin. Pet owners should contact their veterinarians if they have reason to believe the pet was exposed and shows signs of illness. Pets and livestock should never be allowed to drink directly from a stream, as they run a similar risk of contracting illness from untreated surface water as humans do.

-- Who is responsible for cleanup?

The company accepted responsibility for the release and hired a hazardous materials cleanup contractor. All of the recoverable material and contaminated water and soil that were identified was removed by the contractor before the end of the day on Saturday. Other areas have been sampled, and additional cleanup will be done if the material is found elsewhere.

-- What is DEQ doing now and in the future?

DEQ will continue to focus on water quality monitoring and overseeing the cleanup. DEQ may determine that enforcement action is appropriate as the investigation proceeds.

-- What other agencies are involved with the situation and what are their roles?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for assessment of damages to natural resources and the presence of federally listed threatened and endangered species.

-- What are the long-term impacts?

Where the material was present in the water, the stream exhibited a cloudy appearance and moderate to heavy white foam. DEQ checked the stream at more than a dozen locations, from near the mouth at the Roanoke River, to above the confluence with the impacted tributary at Route 11 in Cloverdale. At almost all locations, the appearance of the stream had returned to normal for this time of year. Once the material is diluted and flushed downstream, no long-term impacts to the stream are anticipated. It ultimately may take several years to return to normal, but the stream will recover and aquatic life will repopulate the affected areas.

Location change announced for one Atlantic Coast Pipeline public hearing

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The location for the August 14, 2017, public hearing on the proposed water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has changed from Dinwiddie High School. The hearing will be held at the Southside Virginia Community College Alberta gymnasium at 109 Campus Drive in Alberta Va. The hearing will be held from 6 to 10 p.m.

Public comment period and public hearings scheduled on draft water quality certifications for proposed natural gas pipelines

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2017

Contact: Ann Regn
(804) 698-4442
ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public comment period, including five public hearings around the Commonwealth in August, to receive comments on draft water quality certifications designed to protect water quality along the routes of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

Two hearings will be held for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and three will be held for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The public comment period to receive written comments on both pipelines will run from July 3 through August 22, 2017.

"These hearings and the comment period are very important to helping DEQ meet its goal of protecting water quality," DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. "The pipeline construction is a complicated process, and we look forward to receiving valuable public input as these projects proceed."

The public hearings schedule for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is:

-- August 7, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. -- James Madison University, Festival Conference and Student Center, Grand Ballroom, 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22807. Parking is in Lots C11, C12, and D3.

-- August 10, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. -- Longwood University, Jarman Auditorium, 201 High St., Farmville, VA 23901. Parking is in Wheeler Lot, Crafts Lot, High Street Lot, Randolph Lot or other university-owned lots.

-- August 14, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. -- Dinwiddie High School Auditorium, 11501 Boisseau Road, Dinwiddie, VA 23841. Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

The public hearing schedule for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is:

-- August 8, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. -- Radford University, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main St., Radford, VA 24142. Parking is only in Lot A, or Lots E and U.

-- August 9, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. -- Chatham High School Auditorium, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, VA 24531. Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

The documents on which DEQ is seeking comments are referred to as "401 certifications." These draft certifications will place conditions on activities in upland areas that are near state waters and that may indirectly affect state water along the pipeline routes. These certifications are in addition to the requirements imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, by the Commonwealth of Virginia for stormwater, erosion and sediment control, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands and streams.

The conditions address, among other matters, impacts to public water supplies; engineering and best management practices for steep slopes and slide-prone areas; environmental monitoring and inspections; and development and implementation of plans and procedures for karst mitigation, spill prevention control, water quality monitoring, and protection of riparian buffers.

Additional information is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

Drought watch advisory lifted for Northern Virginia region

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has lifted the "drought watch" advisory issued in March 2017 for public or private water supplies that use groundwater or that withdraw water directly from tributaries of the Potomac River in the Northern Virginia drought evaluation region.

The Northern Virginia drought evaluation region includes Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

According to the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a group representing state and federal agencies, the main factors contributing to the removal of the drought watch are:

-- Above-normal precipitation over the past several weeks has raised the total since October 1, 2016, to more than 83.5 percent of the normal amounts expected for this period.
-- Stream flows and groundwater levels at nearly all indicator stations have increased to levels greater than 25 percent of historic recorded flows.

A drought watch advisory remains in effect for the Northern Piedmont drought evaluation region. Although increased rainfall has returned stream flows in this region to normal levels, groundwater levels remain low. Because groundwater provides flow to streams during the normally dry late summer and early fall months, less-than-normal groundwater levels may be of concern if drier-than-normal conditions return during July, August or September.

The affected localities and public water suppliers in the Northern Piedmont drought evaluation region include Culpeper, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties and the city of Fredericksburg.

Statewide information on the current drought status is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

Virginia issues solid waste report for 2016

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Department of Environmental Quality released its annual report today on solid waste management in Virginia. The report includes the amounts of solid waste managed in Virginia in 2016, and the amounts and sources of solid waste generated outside the Commonwealth.

The total amount of solid waste received at Virginia facilities during 2016 increased by about 1.3 million tons from 2015. Solid waste includes municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, vegetative and yard waste, and other types of waste. The total amount of solid waste from outside Virginia rose about 700,000 tons to 6.1 million tons. The total amount from within Virginia rose slightly to 15.9 million tons.

Other findings of the report include:

-- Of the 22.04 million tons of solid waste reported in 2016, about 12.8 million tons were municipal solid waste, which is trash from households and businesses.

-- The total amount of municipal solid waste generated outside Virginia was about 3.5 million tons, slightly less than in 2015. Maryland, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, New York and New Jersey accounted for 98.8 percent of all waste received from out-of-state sources.

-- Of the total solid waste managed in Virginia in 2016, about 13.3 million tons were disposed of in landfills, and about 2 million tons were incinerated. The rest was managed by other means, including mulching and recycling.

The full solid waste report is available on the DEQ website at www.deq.virginia.gov.

DEQ to hold public meeting on New River PCB study

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will host a public information meeting on May 10, 2017, at 6 p.m. to share the results from a water quality study related to polychlorinated biphenyls in the New River watershed.

A "total maximum daily load" study of PCBs is wrapping up in the New River watershed. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body may contain and still meet water quality standards. To restore water quality, PCBs will have to be reduced to the amount specified by the TMDL.

During several years of fish tissue collection in the watershed ranging from Wythe County to Montgomery County, DEQ has found fish tissue contaminated with elevated levels of PCBs. These PCB levels have led the Virginia Department of Health to issue fish consumption advisories.

A task force completed a source identification study and produced a report in 2004 that established the foundation for this PCB study. Since 2004, analytical methods have improved and PCBs now can be detected at very low levels. Additional water, sediment and fish tissue monitoring occurred from 2010 to 2015 to better inform this phase of the PCB study.

During the May 10 meeting, DEQ will present an overview of the New River PCB TMDL project, the modeling efforts, and future implementation strategies. This is a follow-up meeting to the information meeting held in April 2016. The public meeting will focus on the PCB sources contributing to contaminated fish tissue in the New River, Reed Creek, Claytor Lake, Peak Creek, Walker Creek and Stony Creek watersheds.

The New River watershed PCB TMDL public meeting will be held in Heth Hall, Room 22 at Radford University. Parking is available in Lots DD and EE. The address is 801 East Main St., Radford, VA 24141.

PCBs are chemicals that were used in electrical transformers and other equipment until the late 1970s and can remain in the environment for decades. The Virginia Department of Health recommends that pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, infants and young children should avoid eating PCB-contaminated fish from advisory areas. A full list of waters and fish affected by the advisories is available on the health department's website at www.vdh.virginia.gov.

The study indicates that elevated PCBs exist during high flow events in lower Peak Creek, in the New River around Radford, in Wolf Creek above Narrows and in Walker Creek near Pearisburg. Sources of PCBs include, but are not limited to, point source dischargers, stormwater runoff from areas of known contamination, and existing contamination in river sediments.

The New River, Reed Creek, Peak Creek, Stony Creek, Walker Creek and Claytor Lake PCB impaired segments are located in Montgomery County, Pulaski County, the city of Radford, Wythe County and Giles County. Through the TMDL process, DEQ has identified PCB contributors in the New River watershed. The TMDL process uses tools like collecting empirical data, requesting stakeholder knowledge and utilizing computer watershed models.

During the public meeting, DEQ will present the draft TMDL report, which outlines sources and their relative contribution to PCB loads in the New River watershed. To attain water quality standards and restore safe fish consumption, PCB sources must be removed by employing best management practices.

The public comment period for the PCB study closes June 9, 2017.

Virginia provides water quality approval for Army Corps of Engineers wetlands permits

By William.Hayden@deq.virginia.gov (Bill Hayden) from Virginia DEQ - DEQcast - DEQ news releases. Published on .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2017

Contact: Bill Hayden
(804) 698-4447
william.hayden@deq.virginia.gov

RICHMOND, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has provided water quality certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2017 Nationwide Permits.

DEQ, under the authority of the State Water Control Board, issued the final Section 401 Water Quality Certification as meeting the requirements of the Virginia Water Protection regulation. After having accepted public comment for 30 days and giving consideration to the comments received, DEQ found that there is a reasonable assurance that the activities permitted under the Corps' Nationwide Permit program, including the Norfolk District Corps' Regional Conditions, will be conducted in a manner that will not violate applicable water quality standards, provided permittees comply with all applicable Section 401 conditions.

Among the activities covered under the federal Nationwide Permit program are projects such as renewable energy generation facilities, living shorelines, aids to navigation, dredging, utility line activities, aquatic habitat restoration, and removal of low-head dams.
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