Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

State Officials Outline Steps for Treating Tainted Wells

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

State Officials Outline Steps for Treating Tainted Wells

Article excerpt

NORTH HALEDON -- With confirmation that a carcinogenic chemical has invaded two dozen residential wells, officials are directing homeowners on how to treat their water and file claims for related costs.

The public's alarm was evident on Monday as an official information session at Eastern Christian High School drew more than 100 residents. Many were eager to point fingers at potential culprits, but the state Department of Environmental Protection staff was initially focused on ensuring water safety.

"Contaminated potable wells are considered the highest priority at the department," said a DEP spokesman, Andrew Sites.

The contaminant -- carbon tetrachloride -- is commonly found in aerosols and widely used as a dry-cleaning solvent and refrigerant. In New Jersey, the groundwater remediation standard for carbon tetrachloride is one part per billion, which Sites compared to "a drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool."

In large concentrations, carbon tetrachloride has been found to cause liver cancer in animals. State officials said the risk of cancer increases by one-millionth if residents consume 2 liters of water daily for 20 years at current contamination levels.

"It's a small risk, but it's a risk you don't have to take," Sites said.

Dr. Perry Cohn of the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Drinking Water Quality Institute, added that the contamination was not an immediate health risk at current levels but encouraged residents to take steps to minimize their exposure. He said that contamination probably occurred in the past few years but more sampling was required to determine the polluted area.

"Cracked rock geology can spread [pollution] in funny directions," he said. "It's not predictable."

Current results show that 24 wells on Wayne Court, Gemeinhart Place and Wayne, Passaic and Manchester avenues are contaminated above the remediation standard. In one case, tests found contamination at 34 parts per billion.

In March, contamination was found after a well test of a Wayne Court home during a real estate transaction. Residents within 1,000 feet of the property were advised to test well water. DEP intervention followed. …

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