Chemicals Force Water Advisory in AL

Monday, June 6, 2016 @ 02:06 PM gHale

Because of unsafe levels of two chemicals in the water system, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority in Decatur, AL, is advising its customers not to drink or cook with water from the system.

Tests of the system’s water have found levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) that exceed the levels of a health advisory issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) two weeks ago.

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The EPA said water systems with combined levels of 70 parts per trillion of the chemicals in drinking water should advise its customers of the potential health risks and take steps to reduce the chemicals. The most recent tests of West Morgan-East Lawrence’s water found 110 parts of the chemicals per trillion.

General Manager Don Sims said at a news conference the decision to tell customers not to drink the water was his recommendation to the authority’s board at a board meeting this morning.

The system’s 10,000 customers will receive official notice with their next bill, Sims said.

West Morgan-East Lawrence plans to build a $4 million temporary system to filter the chemicals out of the water. That system could be working by September, said engineer Brian Pate. A permanent filtering process will also go into place, but that won’t be ready until late 2019, Pate said.

Sims and attorneys at the news conference blamed 3M and other companies for the presence of the chemicals in the system’s water. West Morgan-East Lawrence filed a federal lawsuit against 3M and two other companies over the issue.

3M officials have said its Decatur plant quit using the chemicals years ago, and the plant was within its environmental permits when it used the chemicals. They have also said there has been no proof of harm to the water system’s property or its customers’ health.

The chemicals have not been found in Decatur Utilities drinking water.

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