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Neighbor, funeral director talk about chemical that spilled in Roanoke Co. crash

By David Kaplan, dkaplan@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jun 12 2014 06:13:35 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2014 08:26:54 PM EDT

We are learning more about a potentially hazardous chemical that spilled onto the property of nearly twenty families in Roanoke County

ROANOKE CO., Va. -

We are learning more about a potentially hazardous chemical that spilled onto the property of nearly twenty families in Roanoke County.

A truck carrying thousands of gallons of a formaldehyde solution overturned Wednesday morning on Jae Valley Road, forcing those people to evacuate.

Contractors with the Department of Environmental Quality are checking to make sure everything is OK. That includes soil, water and air samples.

We spoke with a funeral director who works with formaldehyde to get a better idea about the impact.

Despite not being allowed in his home Wednesday, James Hoffman, who lives right below the, spill says everything seems OK.

“As far as I can tell, I drank the water and it seems fine. I took a shower and everything,” Hoffman said.

We caught up with contractors with the Department of Environmental Quality. They've spent the past 36 hours taking water and air samples.

“They haven't really told us anything, they said the air quality was good, that's the only thing we've found out,” Hoffman said.

On Thursday morning, those contractors put two huge plastic sheets along the creek that runs from the top of the hill. They say that'll help contain whatever runoff there may be.

Bobby Strong is a Funeral Director at Oakey's Funeral Home.

He and his staff works with formaldehyde all the time; storing and handling it with care.

“It's considered a hazardous material. It's considered carcinogenic,” Strong said.

He says the spill should be taken seriously, but it's not a cause for widespread concern.

“It's water-soluble so it's going to be gone. It's not like oil that it just sits there, Strong said.

Strong thinks Wednesday night's heavy rain would have helped break the solution down, but says he wouldn't be surprised if some plants in the neighborhood didn't make it in the short term.

For the long-term effects, if any, that's the DEQ's call to make.