According to a press release issued by Carroll County on Tuesday morning, Carroll County officials were notified on October 1 by the Department of Environmental Quality that a complaint had been received with regard to a business operating in Cana at the intersection of Old Pipers Gap and Flower Gap roads.
According to the press release, the business was using acid to remove valuable metals such as gold from dismantled computers. The complainant suggested carelessness in the operation and that some of the acid may have been disposed of on-site.
The release also stated that Carroll County Emergency Services Director Joe Roma visited the site and found more than 80 barrels of acid on trailers parked on the property. Once Roma found unstable plastic barrels of suspected acid, he contacted the VA Department of Emergency Services, Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia State Police, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsville Fire Department, Cana Fire Department, Carroll EMS, and the Commonwealth Attorney.
The efforts of the group found the owner of the property and the operator of the business, whose names are being withheld while the clean-up operation is proceeding, according to the press release. After obtaining permission, further searching yielded nearly 300 chemical and gas-filled containers. A full accounting of the containers has not yet been completed since the chemicals have not been identified.
Samples of soil, water and air were taken on October 1 and 2, however, due to the complex testing procedures to identify the acids (and other chemicals) the samples will take up to seven days to yield results. In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an On-Scene Coordinator who visited the site on October 5 along with state and local officials.
At the suggestion of the Commonwealth Hazmat and EPA, Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe declared Carroll County a Local Emergency on October 5. It is expected that the Carroll County Board of Supervisors will ratify the action of the County Administrator on October 13 at their regular meeting, the press release said.
The county’s statement also noted that the EPA will start testing water and soil samples in the area of the suspected contamination on October 6 and move outward in rings to make sure that the water source of the community is safe. At the same time, the EPA will start to stabilize the chemicals with the assistance of EPA contractors. It is expected that the clean-up will take several days according to the results of the chemical identity tests and the testing of local streams, wells and soils.
This site had apparently been in operation for several years according to the investigation
without being reported, Larrowe said in the press release.
“Once someone reported the operation to the appropriate officials, quick actions have resulted. It is important to let the proper officials know of issues like this to avoid
environmental dangers, human safety issues and to assist in cleaning up the Carroll County," Larrowe said.