State Issues Warning About Fish After Chemical Spill in Southington

Emergency crews are investigating a 400-gallon acid spill at a metals company in Southington yesterday and testing the town's water as a precaution.

A mixture of chromium acid discharged from the roof vents of the Light Metals Coloring company on Spring Street around 10 a.m. on Wednesday and crews have been working to control it, officials said.

"It was a product called hexavalent chromium and it discharged from a roof vent onto the roof of the building, and it came down through the roof drains, into the parking lot, down the roadway, and down catch basins and affected the discharge to the Quinnipiac River," said Ken LeClerc, DEEP’s emergency response coordinator.

Officials said preliminary tests show the discharge got to the river, but information on levels has not come back.

The DEEP is urging people not to eat fish caught in the Quinnipiac River because of the chemical spill.

"We recommend that people not eat any fish taken from the Quinnipiac River between West Queen Street and downstream to Route 10 - South Main Street - in Southington until we have an opportunity to determine the extent of any lingering contamination in the river resulting from a chemical release yesterday," Deputy DEEP Commissioner Susan Whalen said.

The town shut down two wells as a precaution, but they will be reopened.

As a precaution the Southington Water  Department is also testing water to ensure it is safe for drinking. 

"I have worked closely with the Southington Fire Department and the Plainville-Southington Health District along with many Town, State and Federal agencies on this response. Shane Lockwood, Director of Health of the Plainville-Southington Health District, said in a statement and added that “the actions taken by the Southington Water Company, and their response partners, were timely and done in an overabundance of caution”.  Lockwood also stated there are a handful of private wells in the area and those residents have been notified and sampling is being conducted on those properties.”

Officials are also testing the air.

The chemical is used in the planting industry, has a Ph of 3 and contains heavy metals.

“It's a very heavy product, it settles out quickly, but unfortunately the only way to remove it from the base of the river of the drainage is to excavate the areas affected,” LeClerc said.

Crews said they had to remove 500 of road and it will need to be repaved.

The building department, EPA, DEEP and the Coast Guard all responded.

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