Mercury threatens Eastside, Tennessee-American Water in Chattanooga

Mercury threatens Eastside, Tennessee-American Water in Chattanooga

September 9th, 2011 by Pam Sohn in Local - Breaking News

Arch Chemicals near the City of Charleston Tenn., looking North. At right in the complex is the Olin Corporation.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Raw water at the Eastside Utility District in Tyner and the Tennessee American Water plant in Chattanooga is being checked three times a day for mercury contamination, according to state officials.

Heavy rains this week forced the overflow of an Olin Corp. treatment lagoon and spilled about 50 pounds of mercury into the Hiwassee River, according to Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

No test results are in yet, she said, although the testing began yesterday after the mercury overflows began three days ago.

Normally Olin is permitted to release on 70 pounds of mercury in a year, according to Calabrese-Benton.

Olin spokeswoman Elaine Patterson could not be reached for comment.