Home / Energy / Chemical leak turns Wolf Creek blue; Barberton removing contaminant

Chemical leak turns Wolf Creek blue; Barberton removing contaminant

NORTON – A chemical leak at Barberton’s water treatment plant off Summit Road turned Wolf Creek a turquoise color Tuesday.

The leaking chemical was aluminum sulfate, Ohio EPA spokesperson Linda Oros said. A coagulant, it is traditionally used to remove organic material from drinking water by binding it together and sinking it to the bottom for collection.

Norton officials temporarily closed Summit Road at the Barber Road intersection Tuesday morning after a citizen noticed the creek was “baby blue.”

Barberton Director of Utilities Jim Stender said the leak “is not an alarm situation” and the material is inorganic and “less harmful than shampoo.”

Oros said there were no signs of dead fish, but that the pH of the creek had fallen to an acidic 4.2 (neutral is pH 7) so there was some concern that level might stress fish. Dissolved oxygen levels were good, she added.

It is not known how much coagulant got into the creek, she said.

Stender said the accident occurred when water treatment staff prepared to repair a small leak in a piece of pipe in a tank where chemicals are introduced to the water treatment process.

To repair that pipe, the liquid in that tank was emptied into lagoons outside the water treatment building, but the lagoons were overwhelmed and the excess flooded into Wolf Creek, Stender said.

The affected water is below the dam to the Barberton Reservoir and did not contaminate Barberton’s supply of drinking water.

The EPA instructed Barberton to remove the contaminated water at two locations, Stender said.

Barberton crews are pumping the water near Summit and Wadsworth roads into the sanitary sewer line, which will carry the water to the wastewater treatment plant for normal processing.

At another location near Summit and Clark Mill roads, the city will pump the water into a private field, with the owner’s permission, Stender said. No further treatment of that water is necessary, he said.

In related news, McComb’s water is brown but still called safe to drink.

This article was written by Paula Schleis from The Akron Beacon Journal and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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