UPDATE: Debris clean-up halted in Minden

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Thursday, June 25, 2020 5:50 p.m. UPDATE: MINDEN, WV (WVNS) — The Fayette County Office of Emergency Management and the City of Oak Hill agreed to halt debris clean-up following flooding in Minden.

According to a release from the Fayette County Office of Emergency Management, they are halting clean-up because of pending litigation.

Details are limited. 59News is working to find out more information.


ORIGINAL STORY:

Sunday’s flash flooding caused high water to seep into several homes across Fayette County, with the low sitting town of Minden seeing some of the worst damage.

Now, as residents, like Susie Worley -Jenkins, help clean up the neighborhood, they are concerned about what else with which they are coming in contact.

“What you smell the most is sewage,” Worley- Jenkins explained.

Worley-Jenkins said high water from Arbuckle Creek washed through an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site, where toxins linked to cancer were originally found, and through the Oak Hill wastewater treatment plant as well. That treatment plant sits along Minden Road.

“You see tampons, toilet paper, everything coming out of these storm water drains…well they’re man holes,” Worley-Jenkins added.

On Monday, Worley-Jenkins showed Dr. Ayne Amjad the damage around Minden. Dr. Amjad studied Minden water for years, advocating for officials to take action, and describing the tiny town sitting on a plateau as a “mixing bowl.”

“PCB’s in itself, put that aside for a minute,” Dr. Amjad said. “It’s sewer and waste water that comes down from up top, which is feces, so people are moving this stuff around. They have to pick it up, where are you gonna move that stuff? It’s already in peoples homes.”

Worley- Jenkins told 59 News people in Minden pay a $2.00 “storm drainage” fee each month because of a $22 million project done by the city of Oak Hill when they annexed the small town a few years ago.

“If you’re gonna say that money was spent and Oak Hill annexed Minden to make a sewer system better, where are the storm drains? How does four inches of rain cause that flooding? … Arbuckle Creek is not the New River Gorge,” Amjad stressed.

Dr. Amjad and residents hoped that money could be used to relocate residents away from the toxic land.

City manager Bill Hannabass explained what the multi-million dollar project entailed, and said the drainage issue cannot fall on the city.

“The $20 plus million that were recently spent in Minden were spent on sewer, not drainage and not flood control,” Hannabass said. “Oak Hill has no culverts in Minden, so those are state maintained roads.”

Hannabass agreed Minden residents should be cautious when cleaning.

“You have to treat the flood waters as contaminated,” Hannabass added.

The Fayette County Health Department offered Hepatitis A and Tetanus vaccines to those who were impacted by the flood on Tuesday. Dr. Amjad strongly recommended being tested.

Meanwhile, The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and EPA Mid-Atlantic Region released a statement Tuesday, June 16, 2020 addressing flood concerns in Minden.

It stated the EPA had local partners in Minden on Monday to assess the status of the Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Superfund Site. Initial inspections indicate no significant damage to the cap structure or other recent work. There is also no indication that material was transported away from the site.

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