DNREC Investigating Blades Water Contamination as Residents Expr - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC Investigating Blades Water Contamination as Residents Express Concern

Posted: Feb 10, 2018 5:06 AM Updated:

BLADES, Del. -- Hours after all three of the town of Blades' wells were found to have elevated levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), state, federal, and local agencies are investigating.

Tim Ratsep, DNREC's Administrator of Site Investigation and Restoration, says while they don't know how long the water was contaminated or for how long, they're determined to find out.

"We are in the infancy here," he tells WBOC. "We are going to be here for a while to investigate and to find the sources and to re-mediate those sources so they don't continue to release into the aquifer."

The Environmental Protection Agency says the human health advisory level of PFCs is 70 parts per trillion. Blades' wells tested at 117.5,  96 and 187. While PFCs are newly tested contaminants, DNREC says some studies indicate longterm exposure to the chemicals can cause cancer and impact livers and immune systems. The Division of Public Health says according to the Agencies for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PFCs can also impact growth, learning, and behavior of children and lower a woman's chance of getting pregnant. Blades resident Felicia Hubbard says it's the risks associated with children that worry her as a young mother.

"With my 3 year old, she was just brushing her teeth this morning," she recalls. "I kept trying to tell her over and over again 'don't drink the water, don't drink the water.' She did, and I'm a little concerned."

Other people like Jamie Thiel tell WBOC all they can do is deal with the problem and hope for a quick solution.

"I don't know what's going on, but there's nothing we can do about it right now," Thiel says.

Blades' contamination was uncovered after the EPA requested the water be tested due to the wells' proximity to historic industrial plants.  The exact source of the contamination and its duration are still unanswered but under investigation as people are told not to drink or cook with the town water. DNREC says the water is okay for cleaning and bathing, as PFC contamination has only been found to be problematic if ingested, not just touched. DNREC and DPH say the massive response in Blades was done out of an abundance of caution.

"There is limited evidence of the effects in Blades, as more research is needed, but the restrictions are being put in place to end exposures and protect the health of the residents," says Jamie Mack, DPH Health Systems Protection acting section chief. "While this is a not a contaminant regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, DPH is working to support DNREC and others to ensure we are being protective of the health of people in the area."

Blades Town Administrator Vikki Prettyman says the town is looking into a long term solution to the problem. One idea is putting in a carbon filtration system, although that comes at a cost. 

"I've been told six figures," says Prettyman. "But I'm also assured that we will have the support of the EPA and DNREC and whatever we need to do to get it in and it will get put in."

Governor Carney signed an executive order Friday authorizing the Delaware National Guard to assist the town's efforts. Troops will be in Blades with two 400 gallon tanks called water buffaloes so residents can refill water 24/7 until the situation is resolved. 

 

 

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