Contamination in the Shenandoah River

By: Lauren McKay
By: Lauren McKay

There are new concerns over contamination in the Shenandoah River. This time Virginia's Attorney General has filed a complaint. It is against a company that he says discharges high levels of chemicals that exceed accepted levels. S.I.L. Clean Water, LLC located in Timberville is being accused of discharging large amounts of toxic chemicals into the North Fork Shenandoah River. Attorney General Bob McDonnell says in order to protect the wildlife and fish around this river, the company has to stop polluting.

While the river may look clean and clear, some say there are toxic chemicals in the water. Attorney General Bob McDonnell says the state water control board and the Department of Environmental Quality came to him with a history of years that S.I.L. Clean Water, LLC has exceeded limitations on discharge into the North Fork Shenandoah River.

McDonnell says in 2004 the company exceeded the limit for nitrogen and total phosphorous discharges by 200 percent, in 2005 it was over by 800 percent and in 2006 it is over more than 100 percent. "We are asking the court to intervene to bring them back into compliance through the use of either an injunction or civil penalties or a combination of those to ensure compliance and to reduce the excess pollution in the Shenandoah River," says Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell says the court may force the company to make changes in their infrastructure or they may have to add filtering equipment to be in compliance. "It's important to the farmers who use the treatment plant and the poultry manufacturers who use the treatment plant and to the local governments there that the Shenandoah River continue to be a clean and vital resource to the citizens of the Valley and the only remedy we think we've got at this point is to seek court intervention," says McDonnell.

McDonnell says he doesn't have direct environmental confirmation that this contamination is contributing to the recent fish kills, although he says, some government officials believe that to be true. "It is obviously not a healthy environment for fish in the North Fork Shenandoah River," says McDonnell.

S.I.L. released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that it is working diligently to address concerns over the facility's waste water discharges.


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