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EPA to Tackle Contaminated Wells in Upper Salford Township
Written by Kelly Chandler Staff Writer
2014-09-17

        Residents of Upper Salford's Baghurst Drive/Hendricks Road area may finally have some resolution after 15 years of having to drink bottled water because of contaminated wells.

        The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday it has added the site to its Superfund National Priorities list.   

        National Priority List sites undergo a thorough investigation to determine the full nature and extent of contamination, according to an EPA press release. EPA or the parties responsible for the contamination then address whatever risks the sites pose to human health and the environment.

        The Montgomery County Health Department discovered the contamination while doing routine well sampling in the area back in 1999.  The contamination plume was found to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), 1,1-dichloroethene (1,1-DCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride and 1,4-dioxane.  Their source has not been identified to date.

        Those VOCs can cause upper respiratory inflammation, damage to the liver, kidney and nervous system and cancer, according to the EPA.

        The contamination affects approximately 42 households.  The PA Department of Environmental Protection has provided 27 of those households with bottled water since 1999.  Another 15 homes have tested positive for trace contaminants, officials said.

        Homes at the site have had carbon filtration systems installed, according to information from the EPA, but those systems are not effectively filtering out the 1,4 dioxane.

        EPA officials said the DEP was unable to definitively identify the source of the contamination and referred the area to the federal level.  Their course of action will be two-fold according to the site narrative on the agency's website.  First, they will provide a permanent, alternate source of drinking water.  Secondly, they will remediate the contamination plume.

        Upper Salford officials said the move by the EPA to put the site on the Superfund National Priorities list is a welcomed one.       

"Having EPA working with PA DEP to solve the Baghurst water problem is a positive for the Upper Salford Township community," said Ted Poatsy, chairman of the township's board of supervisors.  "First by providing a permanent source of clean drinking water and then implementing the underground clean-up of the pollution contaminating the drinking water supply.  Here in rural Upper Salford we rely on wells for drinking water, so the clean-up a polluted site is very important to the present and future of our township."

        Township officials were given an approximate timetable of one to two years for the project to be completed at the site, once work begins.  Officials from the EPA, when contacted Wednesday, said they were unable to immediately determine when that work will begin.

        For more information on the site, visit http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/nar1895.htm.


 

 

 

 

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