Oil Out Of The James, Officials Still Caution River Use This Weekend

Amherst Co., VA - Memorial Day Weekend is considered the unofficial start to summer and a lot of folks are expected to be spending some time soaking up the sun, maybe even out on the James River. But three weeks out from that train derailment and oil spill, is it safe to be in? DEQ, the group monitoring the water in the James announced Wednesday that it is safe for recreational use. The river, officials with DEQ say, is clear of any remaining oil from the spill but that's not to say the water is without risk. Three weeks later, the James River is looking a lot like its old self, just in time for the unofficial start to summer. "Do a lot of fishing, we do a lot of kayaking. It wasn't bad at all, it was pretty decent" said Jeremy Wright. Wright frequently kayaks on the James. He got an early start Wednesday to his holiday weekend. "I don't think the oil spill really affected much. We done some fishing over where the oil spill was and we caught several" he said. DEQ officials announced all oil from the train derailment is out of the river and as a result, recreation, is back in. "Barring the scar over here, you really can't tell that anything's happened" said Mason Basten. Basten's boating business rests riverside. His concern for Memorial Day Weekend isn't with any oil, "The thing that I would watch out for this weekend is water level. We do have more water in the river than usual. Don't get in over your head, don't be scared to save it for another weekend" he said. Monday, eight people were pulled from the James in Rockbridge County. Water levels are high. Public safety officials are cautioning in kayak or canoe, come the holiday weekend, it's best to know your limit. "If you're a novice boater or a novice floater, you need to be out with someone who does have experience" said Gary Roakes, Amherst County's Public Safety Director. "When the river's up, don't get on the water. You're putting yourself at risk, you're also putting the people that have to come and rescue you, your putting their lives at risk and there's no sense in it" he said. Water levels came down considerably since the weekend and officials anticipate by Friday they'll be down even more. As always though use caution when out and about.