Hoosic River turns white after mineral deposits leak from nearby plant

Berkshire County

ADAMS, Mass. (NEWS10) — The Hoosic River in Adams turned milky white Tuesday after a substance was discharged into the river from a local building material company.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) received a complaint Tuesday morning that the Hoosic River in Adams had turned white. It was determined the cause of the white discharge came from the nearby Specialty Minerals, Inc.

Officials believe the color change came from calcium carbonate, a non-toxic mineral found in the ground near the plant. Specialty Minerals told NEWS10 ABC in a statement that calcium carbonate is “often consumed by people or animals in food, medicines, or as an anti-acid. The mineral will create a white or cloudy appearance when dispersed in water as was the case in the Hoosic River.”

MassDEP traced the discoloration to the Vermont border Tuesday night. Vermont, New York State, and the communities of Adams, North Adams and Williamstown, and the Berkshire Environmental Action Team were notified of the discharge. The agency returned to the river Wednesday morning to look for any potential impacts to the ecosystem, including fish kills.

The river runs from the Berkshires, through the Green Mountains, and into the Taconic Hills before emptying into the Hudson River at Stillwater.

MassDEP said Specialty Minerals has shut down their operations “until it can assure that it will meet its discharge permit requirements.” The plant must also submit an incident report to MassDEP.

You can read the full statement from Specialty Minerals, Inc. below:

“Calcium carbonate from Specialty Minerals’ plant in Adams was discharged into the Hoosic River on November 16th. Consistent with our commitment to be a good neighbor in this valued community, Specialty Minerals immediately self-reported the discharge to all the proper authorities once the issue was identified in the Hoosic River. The team acted quickly to ensure the release was contained shortly after occurring and has been conducting an investigation, with the support of the MassDEP, to identify the root cause of the release. This activity is also in compliance with our permitting requirement. As a result, we have ceased relevant operations until we can confirm the site is in compliance with all applicable permits.

MassDEP is an excellent and well-respected resource to help us be a sustainable contributor to the community. We are working very closely with the MassDEP who has been involved with the situation since we first discovered the release from our facility. Staff from the MassDEP have been onsite to help resolve the matter. Operations at our site will only start-up again in conjunction with MassDEP’s guidance.

The substance in the river is a common mineral found readily around the world in general, and specifically in the ground surrounding our plant in Adams Mass. It is an inert, non-toxic and natural form of calcium carbonate also known as chalk or limestone. Calcium carbonate is non-toxic and is often consumed by people or animals in food, medicines, or as an anti-acid. The mineral will create a white or cloudy appearance when dispersed in water as was the case in the Hoosic River.”

Michael Landau, Director of Corporate Communications, Minerals Technologies Inc.

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