Verso latex spill fouls North Branch Potomac River

Freshwater intake downstream is at risk, as well as river life. Let's hope for the best!

Ten thousand gallons of latex used for paper coating from the Verso paper mill ended up in the North Branch of the Potomac River during a four-hour period, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The MDE on Thursday received a report of a yellow/white coloration in the river.

MDE sent an investigator to the site and contacted the Verso paper mill and the Upper Potomac River Commission plant that treats wastewater from the paper mill, MDE spokesman Jay Apperson said.

The latex spilled as it was unloaded from a rail car on Wednesday, and the spill was discharged through a collection system to the UPRC plant.

"Although we have not seen any indication of a fish kill, as a precaution MDE notified the Department of Natural Resources fisheries program," Apperson said. "Similarly, although we have no indication of any threat to drinking water facilities, in keeping with our practice for spills and discharges MDE has notified the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin for notification to drinking water facilities not only in Maryland but in Virginia and West Virginia."

Earlier in the day, Maryland Department of the Environment Compliance Specialist Pete Hartman sampled water under a bridge that leads to West Virginia near the Gary Yoder Public Boat Launch and said it had no smell and did not appear to be oily.

"We're still trying to identify the source and the Fisheries Service is helping us to do that," Hartman said.