Monday, August 5, 2013

State Investigating Rash of Contaminated Wells

By: Nathan Lamb

Environmental officials are seeking answers after discovering a potential carcinogen in 22 private wells at a Pennsylvania township, according to this story from the Norristown Times-Herald.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently met with Limerick residents to discuss remediation measures and update the community on efforts to isolate the source of trichloroethylene (TCE) in local groundwater.

The DEP is paying to install charcoal filters in five homes where TCE levels exceed health standards. Estimated cost of installation and the first two years of maintenance for that undertaking is estimated at $44,000.

No action is being taken at the other 17 homes, so long as TCE levels remain below the government health standard of five parts per billion.

All told, the DEP has tested 150 wells in the area of West Ridge Pike since 2010, according to this article from the Limerick Patch.

While the DEP has yet to determine a source of the contamination, its representatives reported finding highly elevated levels of TCE at the former site of a defunct heating equipment company off West Ridge Pike. That sample came back 832 times higher than the safe water standard, but DEP officials said groundwater at that site flows away from most of the contaminated wells.

TCE is typically used as an industrial degreaser and can cause a variety of short- and long-term health problems, according to this EPA fact sheet. Improperly disposed of, it can migrate through soil and contaminate groundwater.

Limerick has a population of roughly 13,500 and is about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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