Petroleum compounds found in homes at Coopers Cove of Franklin County

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – A petroleum leak is taking over some people’s homes in the Coopers Cove neighborhood of Franklin County. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality held a meeting Sunday night to update people on the ongoing investigation.

At least 18 homes in the Coopers Cove area of Franklin County have been dealing with contaminated water since November.

The DEQ found petroleum has been leaking into people’s well water, mostly a low level of MTBE, a chemical added to gasoline to help it burn cleaner and help air quality.

“We’ve put carbon filtration units at residents where the compounds were detected, and we will be monitoring those over the course of the years throughout the investigation,” said Zach Pauley, the technical program manager for DEQ.

During a meeting Sunday night, the DEQ told residents that they had removed three leaking gas tanks and more than 150 tons of petroleum-impacted soil, but residents still have no answers on how long their water has been contaminated.

The Virginia Department of Health said there is no way to tell how long people may have been exposed.

“You don’t know how long it’s been there, so we’ve been there 16 years, and I don’t know if it’s been there the whole time. If I could taste it, I probably would have a better idea of how long it’s been there, so not knowing is a little scary,” said Amanda Bartley, a Coopers Cove resident.

VDH said health effects are unlikely because MTBE is only hazardous if someone drinks contaminated water throughout their entire life.

The DEQ is continuing to investigate, but they tell us this isn’t the first time they are dealing with this kind of scenario.

“We estimate we have a release like this that affects multiple households once a year,” Pauley said.

The DEQ said they are evaluating different options for permanent sources of safe drinking water.

More in-depth information about the contaminated water can be found here.

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