Contamination non-detectable from temporary system
March 16, 2016
PARKERSBURG – A filtration system to remove C8 from a New York town’s water supply is being paid for by the chemical company, officials said.
The Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Plant at Hoosick Falls, formerly operated by Honeywell International, is voluntarily paying for the carbon filter treatment system to remove the contaminant from the drinking water, Hoosick Falls Mayor Dave Borge said on Tuesday. Negotiators dealt with the company in a non-adversarial way, he said.
“They committed to that publicly and that’s what they’re doing,” he said.
C8 has been found in local water supplies in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The compound, once used by DuPont to make Teflon at the Washington Works plant in Wood County, has been linked to six diseases and remains in the body for years, according to the findings of a science panel created after a settlement in a lawsuit filed by residents against the chemical company.
The settlement included a study by a science panel into the medical history of 70,000 residents in the area, the largest case study of its kind.
As part of the settlement, DuPont installed carbon filters in the water systems in Lubeck, Belpre, Little Hocking, Pomeroy and Tuppers Plains. Parkersburg and Vienna were not included in the settlement for the filter systems; C8 has been found in the Vienna and Parkersburg water supplies below the 0.4 parts per billion threshhold set by the EPA.
The concentration is higher in Vienna where last month it was tested above 0.1 ppb in five of eight wells. The science panel study indicates 0.05 ppb can lead to high cholesterol and affect the immune system, according to Dr. Paul Brooks of Vienna, whose company, Brookmar, conducted the medical survey.
The cost of the Hoosick Falls system, which the permanent system should be completed by October, is from $2.2 million to $2.5 million, he said. The company also paid for the temporary system, which was around $250,000 to $300,000, Borge said.
“It is amazing the difference between there and here,” said Harry Deitzler, the attorney representing clients in the C8 lawsuit. “There, the company that put the C8 in the water accepted responsibility and took action to fix the problem. Here, DuPont put the C8 in our water and refuses to fix the problem. The people in Wilmington who run DuPont should be ashamed of themselves, but they really don’t seem to care.”
A spokesman for DuPont was not immediately available.
The system is being constructed by Calgon Carbon Corp. of Pittsburgh, which conducted tests from a 55-gallon drum of water from the system to determine the best system. The preliminary results from the temporary system “are extremely satisfactory,” Borge said. “It is very, very effective.”
Residents remained advised to use the available bottled water for drinking and cooking, Borge said.
The Hoosick Falls water system serves about 1,500 customers representing from 3,800 to 4,000 people, he said.
New York recommended residents not drink water with C8 concentrations of 0.1 ppb. The New Jersey Department of Health health advisory standard is 0.04 ppb.
Tests taken at Hoosick Falls after the carbon filtration system was installed show C8, or PFOA, has been removed to non-detectable levels, Gov. Marion Cuomo said on Monday.
The EPA has yet to respond to a letter requesting it address the situation in Parkersburg and Vienna, Deitzler said. A co-counsel, Rob Bilott, earlier this month wrote a letter to the U.S. EPA asking it to get involved.
“Please note that, if your agencies are intended to pursue any type of consent order, amendment to any existing order or other negotiated agreement to address this issue, we request that the residents be provided an equal opportunity to fully participate in that process in order to protect and enforce their rights,” Billott said in an email to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
In the meantime, Cuomo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Gov. Margaret Wood Hassan of New Hampshire wrote a letter to the EPA saying they are “deeply concerned for the health and well-being of our communities” over the “local drinking water contamination involving the federally unregulated chemical perfluorooctanoic acid.”
“The EPA’s PFOA health advisory was recently lowered in one village in New York by the EPA’s Regional Office, though the higher advisory remains in the rest of the country,” the letter said. “We urge the EPA, under your leadership, to expeditiously review the best available science on this contaminant, and provide uniform guidance to states that our health and environmental officials can use in assessing the safety of our drinking water. In addition, we seek your help and support for additional drinking water testing and analysis in communities exposed to PFOA.”
Shumlin on Saturday announced 29 of 34 tests of private water wells in North Bennington, Vt., showed contamination ranging from concentrations of 0.038 ppb to 2.27 ppb, but tests from the public drinking supply have been tested and are not affected. About 185 wells, a mile and a half from the Chemfab plant, have been sampled, he said.
The Vermont Department of Health has determined a C8 concentration of 0.02 ppb to be acceptable. Bottled water is available for residents of North Bennington.