Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 3, 2009

Environmental lawyer Sanders says Kentucky EPA lifts public warning related to diesel fuel spill into Letcher County drinking water supply.

Kentucky’s Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) has lifted the drinking water consumer advisory issued Feb. 16 for Letcher County. Laboratory analysis of water samples taken last week at the Whitesburg drinking water treatment plant and in the Whitesburg and Letcher County distribution systems confirm that the water is safe. 

Laboratory results indicated there were no measurable levels of diesel fuel in the water produced by the plant. The produced water has been cleared for drinking and all other uses. The advisory was put into place Feb. 16 due to diesel oil seeping into the North Fork of the Kentucky River from a site approximately four miles above the plant’s raw water intake. The Kentucky Environmental Response Team was activated to respond to the emergency.


Immediately after the spill, samples were taken from the river confirmed the presence of excessive levels of diesel fuel. Water that contains diesel fuel can be harmful if it is consumed, inhaled or comes into contact with the skin and eyes.


While water use resumes and is safe, consumers are still advised to flush pipes for 10 minutes if they detect an unusual odor to the water. If the odor persists, they should contact their water company for assistance. As a precaution, food and drinks prepared with water produced prior to the consumer advisory being issued should be discarded.


Cleanup activities at the site of the diesel fuel seepage are continuing and an investigation is underway. Test sampling will continue daily at the treatment plant and at numerous points in the river until remediation of the spill site is complete.

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