Environmental Officials Investigate Seepage Near Closed Luke Mill

Maryland and West Virginia environmental officials are working with Verso officials to identify the source and substance seeping into the Potomac River near the closed Luke Mill. According to Maryland Department of the Environment Office of Communications Deputy Director Jay Apperson, “The Maryland Department of the Environment is investigating a seep from a riverbank at the Verso paper mill. It is a priority to MDE that the source of the seep be identified in order to stop the seep of chemicals to the river. Under MDE oversight and direction, Verso submitted a plan to investigate soils and groundwater at the site and sample water quality in the river. That plan was approved by MDE and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in late August and it called for work to begin in late summer or early fall. That work began earlier this month. The company will develop a cleanup plan, subject to MDE approval, based on the results of the sampling. The matter is under review for potential enforcement action that may include an assessment of financial penalties. Again, this is an ongoing and active investigation.”
According to Verso Vice President Communications and Public Affairs Kathi Rowzie, “The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) notified personnel at Verso’s now-closed Luke Mill of a substance of unknown origin and identity seeping into the North Branch of the Potomac River. Verso subsequently notified the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). Since that time, we have been working closely with the regulators from both states as well as an independent environmental consultant to monitor the situation and to identify the substance and its origin. The identity and source of the substance remain unclear. In an abundance of caution, the mill has installed temporary equipment to pump water away from the affected site, capture and treat it. Once we have a final determination of the substance and its source, we’ll work with the MDE and WVDEP to ascertain what, if any, additional steps are needed.”