Bullet Holes In Tank Caused Leak In Kanawha County


SANDERSON, W.Va. – There has been no fish kill observed and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has said there is believed to be no impact on drinking water after a leaking water treatment tank was reported this morning in eastern Kanawha County.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) initial investigation determined the leak was caused by two small caliber bullet holes in the tank. The exact time of the incident is under investigation, but is believed to have occurred sometime since the evening of Thursday, March 16.

The tank, located in Belcher Hollow near Sanderson, was holding a solution containing 20 percent sodium hydroxide. The tank was set up to treat acid mine drainage in the area. The sodium hydroxide normally entered treatment ponds at a controlled rate, but because of the vandalism the sodium hydroxide entered the treatment ponds uncontrolled causing excessive pH.

The storage tank was registered to ERP Environmental Fund, Inc. WVDEP Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR) inspectors found that the tank is currently registered to a ERP subsidiary. The WVDEP will issue two notices of violation: one for inadequate secondary containment and one for exceeding effluent limits for pH. Initial in stream testing indicated pH remained in compliance.

The nearest public water intake is more than 30 miles downstream, on the Elk River in Charleston. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Kanawha County Emergency Services, and West Virginia American Water were all made aware of the situation. 

For more DEP news and information, go to www.dep.wv.gov. Also, be sure to connect with the agency on all social media platforms. Follow @DEPWV on Twitter and find us on YouTube by searching “Environment Matters.” For specific information about our REAP (Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan), West Virginia Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), West Virginia Watershed Improvement Branch, Youth Environmental Program and Human Resources initiatives, connect on Facebook.


Jake Glance
(304) 926-0499 ext. 1335