RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia health officials are warning people and pets to avoid swimming or wading in the James River after hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage spilled from a Goochland County sewer line into a tributary of the river.
The Virginia Department of Health issued an advisory Thursday after the sewage release from the sewer line into Tuckahoe Creek on Tuesday night, news outlets report. The Goochland County Department of Public Utilities shut off the pipe less than four hours later, but not before 300,000 gallons of “raw, undiluted sewage” spilled into nearby Tuckahoe Creek.
The water advisory applies to Tuckahoe Creek beginning at River Road and the James River from Robious Landing Park in Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico counties to Belle Isle in Richmond. Officials warn that swallowing contaminated water from the river could cause gastrointestinal illnesses and that external contact could cause “infections of the ears, nose, throat and skin.”
There is no impact on drinking water at this time, officials said. An end date for the advisory will be based on bacteria levels in the water.
Activities not likely to result in water submersion like boating, fishing or canoeing may continue with caution, officials said.