Potential contamination of two town water systems were averted by the observation of a reddish sheen on a pond and an ensuing investigation by Pittsylvania County Public Safety as to its source.

Hurt Mayor Gary Hodnett was notified about a visible sheen on the pond in the late afternoon of Tuesday, March 26. Fed by small creeks, the pond eventually drains into the Staunton River which contains the intake system that supplies water to the towns of Hurt and Altavista.

Pittsylvania County Public Safety was called in to investigate the source of the contamination, which turned out to be fuel oil leak from a residential fuel tank that was unused and had a compromised line, said Public Safety Director Chris Key.

The Hurt Volunteer Fire Department also assisted with the initial response and investigation.

It is not known how much fuel was in the tank or how much had leaked out because it was no longer in use, said Key.

Very little of the fuel oil had seeped into the Staunton River and it did not threaten the water system intake, according to Hodnett.
EarthNet Services of Roanoke was called to the scene to begin clean-up operations, which includes employing absorbent materials and a vacuum truck in the tributaries to soak up any remaining oil to protect the integrity of those waterways, according to Hodnett, adding that those tributaries continue to be monitored for contamination.

Further stream monitoring will continue for a minimum of several weeks to a month and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is aware of the situation, according to EarthNet Services.

There are no significant downstream impacts in the Staunton River, according to EarthNet Services.

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