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No Contamination Detected From Overflow at West Virginia Chemical Plant

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No contamination occurred after a stormwater collection trench overflowed this week at the same site where spilled chemicals seeped into West Virginia's largest water supply earlier this year, water company officials said Saturday.

Test results conducted overnight Friday confirmed that the stormwater overflow had not contaminated Elk River, which serves as the main source of drinking water for many West Virginia residents, according to West Virginia American Water.

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Six samples of raw river water were collected and tested at the Kanawaha Valley Water Treatment plant following two stormwater overflows that sent a "small but undetermined" amount of water into the Elk River, the state Department of Environmental Protection said.

The overflow triggered worries of a repeat of January's chemical spill at Freedom Industries, which turned taps off to 300,000 people for days. The trench the stormwater bypassed had been constructed to ensure that water running over the soil contaminated from the winter incident would not enter the river.

"[A]lthough water quality was not impacted, such events only serve to erode customer confidence in the water supply," Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said in a statement.

The water treatment plant is 1.6 miles downstream from Freedom Industries.

Freedom is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. The company also is under multiple state and federal investigations and will will start tearing down its tanks in Charleston by the end of the month, per state orders.

The state DEP warned that the process could stir up the black licorice chemical smell that enveloped the valley in January and lingered in people's tap water long after.

West Virginia American Water has replaced each of its 16 filters since that spill.

— Jacob Passy, with The Associated Press

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