Watauga County officials urge people to avoid recreational activities at the Watauga River in the vicinity of Foscoe due to a gasoline seep into the Watauga River between Church Road and Riverside Farm Road, according to the Appalachian District Health Department. The advisory applies only to that section.
The North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality’s Underground Storage Tanks Section (UST) staff members are leading the investigation to determine the source and contain the substance. Watauga County Emergency Manager, Taylor Marsh, states “We are working in a coordinated response to this concern between Watauga County, Appalachian District Health Department, N.C. Division of Environmental Quality and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.”
Last weekend, the UST Section mobilized ECS Southwest, an environmental consulting firm, to conduct emergency response activities in an effort to stabilize the contamination along the Watauga River. Signs of petroleum contamination, free product along the river bank and petroleum-covered vegetation were removed. The water with the sheen along the bank was also skimmed. Absorbent pads were used to remove free product, and more than 100 feet of booms were placed along the bank where the multiple seeps have been observed. An additional boom was placed down river as an extra precaution.
Environmental and health officials continue to recommend the following:
- Avoid swimming, wading or fishing in this section of the Watauga River area until further notice.
- Avoid skin contact with water, soil and sediment in or near the river.
- If skin comes in contact with contaminated sediment or water, thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water.
At this time, all private drinking water wells near the site have been tested. No contamination has been identified. Additional guidance will be provided as soon as possible if recommendations are received.
Questions or concerns should be phoned into Appalachian District Health Department at 828-264-4995 ext. 1114. Please leave name and phone number for a return call.