by Trish Rudder
Two chlorine leaks were discovered on Thursday, August 1 and Friday, August 2 at the town-owned water department, Berkeley Springs Water Works.
Department manager, Ron Jainnney said the leaks were due to a faulty controller that “we are replacing.”
“At no time was the water that we distribute from the plant affected.”
Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief, Marshall Younker, said on Friday that the chlorine system was shut down, but there is residual chlorine in the system. “The levels are safe,” he said.
Younker said that one block of Wilkes Street where the plant is located was closed for safety from about 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
West Fairfax Street was closed to vehicle traffic for safety during that time as well, but the businesses were allowed to stay open.
Fire trucks and emergency vehicles used Fairfax Street to park rather than disrupt traffic on U.S. 522, Younker said.
Jainniney said exposure to chlorine is minimal as long as not too much is inhaled within a short period of time. “Burning eyes, burning nose, and a scratchy throat are common symptoms of exposure. If the exposure is prolonged, the symptoms are, of course, worse.”
“Looking out for the employees in this case is my number one concern, which is why 911 was activated,” he said.
“Nobody got hurt,” said Berkeley Springs Police Chief, T.J. Johnson, who responded to the emergency 911 call.
Younker said in addition to the Berkeley Springs fire department, Reynolds Store, Great Cacapon, and Hancock fire companies responded as well as Washington County Special Operations (HAZMAT team) out of Hagerstown, Md. and the Morgan County EMS responded to the Thursday call. All but Reynolds and Great Cacapon fire companies responded on Friday.