By Shawn A. Hessinger, Tamaqua Bureau Chief, shessinger@republicanherald.com
The REPUBLICAN & Herald, © 2006

July 25, 2006

TAMAQUA — The borough water authority will resume its testing of the Still Creek Reservoir today despite conclusions from another governmental agency that the reservoir poses no threat.

A review of existing environmental samplings from 2004 by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Region III, released by the authority at its Monday meeting, concluded there was no cause for alarm.

“Based on the evaluated data, exposures of water, sediment and fish from the Still Creek Reservoir are not expected to result in adverse health effects,” Lora S. Werner, senior regional representative for the agency wrote in a letter passed out at the meeting.

“Take that home and read it, but that’s pretty much the moral of the story,” said authority Chairman Brian Connely.

“By what I can gather there’s no health hazard at this time,” Connely added.

Specifically, the agency’s review concluded that only a single sample of untreated surface water from the 2004 sampling had shown elevated levels of lead, approximately 76 parts per billion or five times the public drinking water standard.

The agency observed that neither subsequent sampling in early 2006 nor testing required by the Safe Drinking Water Act had revealed similar results.

The agency further concluded that no levels of health concern were detected in treated water consumed by community members, although Councilwoman Cathy A. Miorelli has said some tests at the tap did reveal elevated lead levels.

The federal agency further concluded that since fishing, swimming and boating are prohibited on the reservoir, human contact with sediments and fish from the reservoir were unlikely.

The agency did not attempt to address a report of two fish with tumors allegedly caught by residents in the Rush Township reservoir and only addressed incidences of the rare blood disease Polycythemia Vera, which local environmental advocates say some nearby residents have contracted, as a reason for the review.

Environmental advocates fear a former Superfund site, the former McAdoo Associates, may be at the heart of local health problems.

Despite assurances from the federal agency, the authority has decided to move forward with ongoing testing for lead, zinc and arsenic.

Connely announced Monday that a $10,000 grant for testing, arranged through state Sen. James J. Rhoades, R-29, had been approved.