2006.09.15 – EPA SAYS DRINKING WATER NOT TAINTED SOME TAMAQUA-AREA RESIDENTS STILL SAY WELLS, RESERVOIR ARE TOXIC.

SOME TAMAQUA-AREA RESIDENTS STILL SAY WELLS, RESERVOIR ARE TOXIC.
By Chris Parker Of The Morning Call
The Morning Call Inc., Copyright 2006

September 15, 2006

Despite Tamaqua-area residents’ concerns about contamination from a nearby Superfund site, a federal agency says drinking water in a municipal reservoir and along Still Creek Road in Rush Township, about a mile from the site, is safe.

Water from private wells and treated water from the Still Creek Reservoir is not contaminated by pollutants leaching from the McAdoo Associates Superfund site in Kline Township, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says in its August bulletin.

The bulletin is endorsed by the state departments of Health and Environmental Protection and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The announcement drew outrage from those who say contaminants from the site have leached into groundwater, causing illness, most notably polycythemia vera, an often-fatal blood disease.

”Four government agencies put out a brochure, but they haven’t done any research,” said Dante Picciano, who formed the Tamaqua-based Army for a Clean Environment. ”All they have done is put out this incomplete and misleading brochure.”

The agencies ”have spent more money publishing and mailing this brochure than the agencies have spent investigating the problems that we are experiencing with toxic exposures and chemicals,” Picciano wrote on the group’s Web site. ”We need less propaganda and more research.”

In the bulletin, titled ”Seven Facts You Should Know About the McAdoo Associates Superfund Site,” the EPA addresses polycythemia vera, the blood-thickening disease that several residents living along Ben Titus Road, down hill from the McAdoo site, say they have.

In the bulletin, the EPA says the cause of the disease is not known.

”No one has yet been able to establish any links between this disease and exposure to any particular chemical or chemicals,” it says. ”We know that it occurs more often in older people and is slightly more common in men.”

In the bulletin, the EPA says ”rates of some newly diagnosed cancers in this study area, including polycythemia vera specifically in Luzerne County, were higher than expected compared to the rest of the state.”

The EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Larry Johnson said the agency has asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and state Health Department to look into the incidence of the disease.

”It is our job to protect people from those things,” he said. ”We just do not feel that the McAdoo [Superfund site] is part of that problem.”

Under the heading ”Can contaminants at the site leak into groundwater?” the EPA says groundwater under the site is contaminated, but the source of the contamination, as well as tainted soil, was removed during remediation.

Rainwater was diverted from the site through ditches and a clay cap, Johnson said, and fault lines block water from seeping.

But area resident Joe Murphy, who has helped research the site with the Army for a Clean Environment, said the group has found mine maps and engineering documents that disprove the EPA’s ”salad bowl” theory that the geology of the site would keep the contaminants contained.

The EPA’s most recent five-year review, in June 2005, indicated the level of contaminants was low and confined to one area. Further, the EPA says, ”the site groundwater is not used for drinking, as it is impacted by acid mine drainage. Drinking water, including residential and public water supplies, is not impacted by any site-related contaminants.”

According to the newsletter, ”Site-related contaminants have not been found in private wells.” It also says that treated water from the Still Creek Reservoir meets federal Safe Drinking Water standards.

According to the EPA, ”Only a single sample of untreated surface water from the reservoir in 2004 detected an elevated level of lead — 76 parts per billion.”

Samplings taken this year show no elevated levels, the newsletter said.

Bookmark and Share