More than 1,000 gallons of a water treatment chemical have been spilled into the Rivanna River.
Officials have said the drinking water in the city of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County has not been affected.
Roughly 1,200 gallons of liquid lime were unintentionally released at the South Rivanna Water Treatment Plant on Thursday, the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority said in a statement.
Liquid lime and other lime products are used to neutralize acidic waters, reduce the concentration of organic pollutants and clarify water.
Consuming lime can burn the esophagus leading to swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing, induce vomiting and cause severe abdominal pain. Low blood pressure develops rapidly when lime is ingested, and the chemical can change the acid level in the blood, leading to organ damage.
“Liquid lime from the water treatment plant entered the South Rivanna River downstream of the reservoir dam,” the water and sewer authority said in a statement after Thursday’s spill. “RWSA staff, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Albemarle County Department of Fire Rescue responded immediately to quickly minimize any impacts to the environment.”
Officials maintain the drinking water in the surrounding area remains safe.
“Our community’s drinking water was not affected by this situation,” the water and sewer authority said in its statement.