Paint Very Likely the Source of Plume in Rockhouse Fork Creek

Conclusive testing done by the state on water samples taken from a yellow-green plume in Rockhouse Fort Creek that was reported to Environmental Response Team of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (KYDEP) on April 11, has revealed the presence of titanium, which does not typically occur in surface water.

Titanium Dioxide is a key ingredient in the water-soluble paint that has been found through the KYDEP’s investigation in large totes being sold in the Martin County area that have been repurposed for garbage collection.  Many of these totes were observed next to the Rockhouse Fork Creek, including a tote containing residual yellow paint.

The KYDEP staff investigation showed that after a county-wide garbage collection began in Martin County April 1, 2016, a number of nearby retailers began selling the 330 gallon “totes” that residents along the creek purchased to use for garbage collection. Totes identified by KYDEP staff had as much as a few gallons of leftover, water-soluble, yellow paint used for road-marking purposes. It is believed that one or more of the totes were washed out into the creek prior to use as a garbage receptacle.

The water testing showed no evidence of glycol used in antifreeze or fracking residue, among other potential sources. KYDEP staff have determined that paint from one of these totes is very likely the cause of creating the plume in Rockhouse Fork Creek. The agency has not been able to identify the specific individual or individuals responsible for the release at this time.

Please see the linked report for more information on the agency’s investigation into this matter.