Huntington Resident Complains About Buried Chemicals

Updated 4 years ago HNN Staff
Huntington Resident Complains About Buried Chemicals

 Having grown up in Huntington at 719 31st Street, David Cremeans, 70,  remembers trucks traveling  to a dump next to the Guyandotte River in that neighborhood. The open bucket trucks splattered  yellow, red and blue colors of slurry  along the street.

“We used to play in it as children.  It looked like red, yellow and blue smurf,” Cremeans said, noting that over one hundred of his playmates and then neighbors have died. “It’s slow  dying of vascular disease and cancer. If people just knew what chemicals were leaching down in to the Ohio River," Cremeans said.

As part of "Industry Has Been Poisoning West Virginia Water for Decades," Cremeans  told the national publication Indian Country on Jan. 15, 2014 following  the MCHM Elk River spill that “For the past 35 years, the City of Huntington has been receiving polluted chemicals and carcinogens from dump sites all along the riverbanks."

Read more at  Cremeans  particularly cited  waste that originated from Standard Ultramarine and placed in  landfills by BASF (the successor).  It leaches into the Guyandotte and Ohio Rivers. The whistle blower describes the location as at and near the approaches to the East Huntington bridge where the waste is covered by dirt , not clay. This site , according to Cremeans, is within about one hundred yards of the emergency drinking water intake. When frozen, he stated, the ice has a red, yellow, blue color. 

Cremeans has made numerous recent  complaints to state and federal agencies about contamination at or near 31st Street . They have not provided him written concerns.

However, the online Planet Hazard (in a 2006 copyrighted table) listed Standard Ultramarine ( which was acquired by Holland Suco and later BASF), as having  more than thirty thousand pounds of toxic emissions per year (four pollutants, seven sources) relying on a 2002 EPA emission inventory. That source listed the Dietz Hollow Landfill as then having 10,382 pounds of emissions from 28 pollutants/sources and Huntington Alloys as then having 541,535.95 pounds of emissions from sixteen pollutants from 76 sources.


OVEC (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition ) members in February 1990,  petitioned the U.S. EPA to investigate abandoned chemical waste dumps along the Guyandotte River in East Huntington for Superfund cleanup status. While EPA action lagged, OVEC pressure on West Virginia officials resulted in covering the surface of the dumps to reduce public exposure from contaminated dusts.
On Earth Day 1990, OVEC publicly issued a "Pollution Prevention Challenge to Tri-State industries" demanding that the "Toxic Top 20" industries implement pollution prevention programs to reduce their use and emissions of toxic and hazardous chemicals.

(According to a historical page Standard Ultramarine and Color in 1984 underwent a $35 million dollar rehabilitation including environmental controls. It was then operated by BASF Wyandotte.)

At age twelve, Cremeans  witnessed  waste  burial at Dietz. And some of it came from the then "secret" uranium and nickel processing factory (Huntington Pilot Plant, HPP) on the Huntington Alloys property then leased to the Atomic Energy Commission.


“Everyone (during the Cold War) knew we were on the Top Ten list “ of locations that would be nuked suggesting that the location  "secret" known well by locals just as the bunker under the Greenbrier in Lewisburg, WV.

At another time in his life, a night fishing expedition along the Ohio River led to a surprise confrontation.  Trekking east of Harris Riverfront Park,  he and his friends halted their venture to the riverside. They did not stop voluntarily. Armed guards told the men to “get the hell out of there.”   Why?  50 gallon barrels were being buried in a pit alongside the river, he recalled. 

While operating an Indian relics organization on Guyandotte’s Main Street, several people would bring relics and fish for him to see. Some of them contained lesions on them. The finders, including his brother, have passed from brain cancer or brain aneurysms. 

His daughter rented a house near Dietz, but when it rained, “water poured off the hill creating a pool in front of her house.” Eventually,  fluid from three Dietz ponds filled with toxic waste from Huntington Alloys would run into channels that  flow under Riverside Drive. “One of them glowed green in the dark,” he said.

She moved.

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