Water testing to run through the weekend in Southington after ch - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Water testing to run through the weekend in Southington after chemical leak

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Crews check the roof of Light Metals Coloring in Southington on Thursday. (WFSB photo) Crews check the roof of Light Metals Coloring in Southington on Thursday. (WFSB photo)

Testing for a toxic chemical that seeped into a river in Southington Wednesday night will continue through the weekend, according to environmental officials.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said 350 gallons of a potentially cancer-causing chemical called hexavalent chromium leaked from the roof of the Light Metals Coloring Plant on Spring Street.

New information about the leak was released during a 1 p.m. briefing on Friday.

Officials said their tests were turning up negative results in the search for the chemical. However, the testing continued on Friday.

"It's a particularly dangerous chemical because it's absorbable through the skin. It's poisonous by ingestion, and poisonous if you breath the dust into your body," said DEEP official Jeff Chandler.

Although it's a hazardous chemical, officials said they do not believe it will get into contact with residents.

"We're very confident that we got the majority of the recoverable material picked up," said Chief Harold Clark, Southington Fire Department. "To say every single molecule is gone, I can't say that. We are testing everything to make sure it's clean."

Clark said the roof of the business, where the leak originated, was stripped. It was in the process of being completely replaced on Friday.

Some of the chemical made its way into the Quinnipiac River.

Clark said it was unclear how much of the material escaped their cleanup efforts.

Southington officials said they shut down two of the town's wells until testing comes back clean.

"The wells were shut down out of an abundance of caution," Clark said. "We are expecting [test] results in the next 24 hours."

Crews were testing the ground water situation as of Thursday.

"Additional soil and groundwater sampling is ongoing. More samples were taken today and that information will be given over the weekend," said Chandler.

Water samples were taken all the way down the Quinnipiac River into Cheshire. Chandler said those tested negative for the chemical. However, he said they were still sending them to a lab for further confirmation.

DEEP continued to urge people to avoid the riverbank and catch and release any fish that are caught.

"We have not seen any fishkills or other environmental impacts," Chandler said. "That's an encouraging sign."

DEEP said on Friday that a consumption advisory will remain in place until Thursday's test results are obtained and analyzed.

It said there was no airborne threat.

Hexavalent chromium can cause skin irritation and affect organs over the long term, according to medical experts. Chandler said it has the ability to dissolve into and pollute water.

Clark said no injuries were reported over the course of the cleanup.

Light Metals was said to be performing shipping business operations only, according to fire officials. As of Friday, it was not producing any chemicals.

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