PHELPS, Ky. – A chemical spill at Peter Creek on Saturday afternoon have many scratching their heads as to what type of material was being kept in multiple containers at a vacant building, which belongs to former State Representative W. Keith Hall.
Lanny Brannock , spokesman with the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Frankfort, Ky. said an Emergency Response Team (ERT) was dispatched to the area around 5 p.m. at the request of Pike County Emergency Management.
According to Brannock, twenty-seven 300 gallon totes were discovered on the outside of the building several totes, 55 gallon drums and a couple of poly-tanks were being housed inside the building. None of the containers were labeled and all of the containers appear to contain the same material. Samples have been taken and are currently at the lab for characterization. The containers were in poor condition and were badly deteriorated; the spill caused a mile long stretch of dead fish in Peter Creek.
Brannock said it will be approximately 7-10 days before testing will be complete and the department will be certain of what the material was. Brannock also does not see a threat to public health.
Kevin Dotson, Assistant Fire Chief with Phelps Volunteer Fire Department (PVFD) said the initial call came in to PVFD at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Saturday stating a chemical leak had occurred at BMM, Inc. upon arrival at the scene fire department personnel discovered multiple containers with liquid leaking from them, which was leaking across the property onto the road and into the creek. The liquid was extremely slick and caused at least one accident, no injuries were reported in the accident.
Members of Echo Tec, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, PVFD and the Ky. Environmental Response team were all on scene to help contain the spill. Four buoys were put in place in the creek, while sand and soak pads were used on the roadway. The spill was contained and there is no threat to any rivers, creeks or streams downstream.
Although, no one is certain as to why the containers were on the property or where they came from, it is a possibility the containers were transported to the property from Chisholm Mining after it was closed. The containers are believed to have been stored on the property for the past 8-10 years.
The only injury reported was PVFD firefighter, Jody Ferrell. Ferrell was transported by Trans Star Ambulance Service to Pikeville Medical Center as a precaution after he was splashed in the face by contaminated water while setting a buoy in the creek. He was treated for skin irritation and released.