CHARLESTON, WV — Hundreds of propane and fuel oil tanks damaged in the recent West Virginia flooding are being collected by federal contractors to prevent a serious public health hazard, officials here say.

Leakage from the tanks could contaminate the drinking water supply. Also, propane tanks that are punctured while the contents are under pressure present the threat of explosion. Heavy storms dropped as much as 10 in. of rain in the southern part of the state. The subsequent flooding killed two and destroyed or damaged approximately 3,500 homes.

A spokesman for West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection noted, “We’re finding heating oil tanks, propane tanks, 55-gal drums of hazardous oily products, and a few gas cylinders used for welding scattered around.” Officials estimated that there were as many as 150 damaged tanks in just one part of Raleigh County.

Publication date: 07/16/2001