- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Schools, restaurants and businesses in the Lewisburg area were closed Monday and about 12,000 people were without water following a diesel fuel spill that prompted a shutdown of the city’s treatment plant and intakes to avoid contamination.

City officials were awaiting the results of water tests to determine whether it was safe to restore water service, Mayor John Manchester said.

“The plant will be standing by for the results. If the results show we can fire up the plant and there is no detection of hydrocarbons, low-lying areas should see some small amount of water within 12 to 24 hours, enough to flush commodes and things like that,” Manchester told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He said it would take another day to restore water service to people in moderate or high-lying areas.

“This is very frustrating and sad to see this sort of thing happen,” he said.

The water system serves customers in Lewisburg, Frankfurt, Fairlea, Ronceverte and Renick.

The spill occurred late Friday night when a tanker truck overturned on Route 92 and dumped 3,975 gallons of diesel fuel into a tributary of the Greenbrier River, the city’s source of drinking water. The city shut down the treatment plant and water intakes early Saturday morning and ran out of water on Sunday afternoon.

Manchester said two tanker trucks have been set up at the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea and at Island Park in Ronceverte to distribute water to residents.

The Greenbrier County Health Department ordered all food establishments in Lewisburg, Fairlea and Ronceverte to close. Many local businesses also were closed, the city said in a statement posted on its website.

Greenbrier Medical Center re-scheduled elective surgeries and closed its cafeteria. Water conservation measures have been implemented, hospital spokeswoman Kim Estep said in a statement.

Manchester said the spill will have an economic impact on his city. But he said it would have been worse if the spill had occurred during the summer when tourism peaks.

“This is traditionally a quiet time in January. The peak of summer would have been enormous,” he said.


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