Scientist says toxic chemicals found in James River - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Scientist says toxic chemicals found in James River

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The first set of test results are in from the James River after a CSX train derailed, causing a bakken oil explosion and thousands of gallons of crude oil to leak into the James.

Chief Scientist Scott Smith with Water Defense tells WSLS that at this point he believes there is at least twenty thousand gallons of oil in the James River.

Results from the sample taken taken from the river bank along the site of the crash shows that there are high levels of five types of metals including barium, chromium, nickel, lead and vanadium.

Smith says most concerning, however, is high levels of semi-volatile chemicals which don't quickly dissipate into the air, meaning they will be sticking around for while.

Smith says these are toxic chemicals and with so much of them being along the river bank, high water levels from rain will easily spread those chemicals.

Smith tells WSLS he personally recommends that the water not be used for drinking until further testing can be done.

Water Defense will be continuing their research next week.

WSLS will continue to keep you updated with the latest.

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Original Story:

The first set of test results are in from the James River after a CSX train derailed, causing a bakken oil explosion and thousands of gallons of crude oil to leak into the James.

WSLS has been following this story from the beginning. Click here to read previous stories.

Friday, WSLS went along Chief Scientist Scott Smith with Water Defense, a national group who's mission is to keep the U.S. waterways clean, as they tested the water in the James River.


The group is best known for working on the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but has worked on every major oil spill since, especially the past three bakken oil spills.


Coming up tonight on WSLS, Rachel Lucas will give you the details on the results.

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