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Wythe company cleaning up environmental mess

By Orlando Salinas, osalinas@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:07:48 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 16 2013 09:17:43 AM EDT

Zinc Water Clean Up

WYTHE CO., Va. -

A company in Wytheville says it's working hard to cleanup an environmental hazard.

Nearly 20 years ago, state officials ordered the Dixon Lumber Company to cleanup acres of limestone deposits built up after decades of mining in Wythe County.

Dixon hired the Austinville Limestone company and so far it has removed nearly 552 thousand tons of material. Then came the heavy rains of June and July and Kevin Mann, the president of Austinville Limestone, said dangerous levels of zinc made its way into the water

"The problem that arose in the early part of the Summer' said Mann 'is we had a record unprecedented rainfall here and that that washed out some pipes and some berms that were established to control water running into that site."

Workers had already created a channel to keep surface water from mixing with the limestone residue, but the Summers soaking rains, pushed the water out.

"[That] resulted in limestone sediment being released into the creek, Buttle Branch, and into ultimately into the New River'' said Mann.

The Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing the cleanup and says testing shows zinc levels to be safe. Mann said his team has been working hard to get it right.

"Once this was discovered VDEQ came out and consulted with us about what needed to be done to stop this. This is something that we'd never seen before."