JEFFERSON-The Town of Jefferson’s Water Resources director said a lab error is the reason elevated levels of a contaminant were detected in a recent water sample from one of the town’s three wells.
If you are one of the town’s 800 water customers, you likely received a public notice in the mail stating the town violated a drinking water standard. Monitoring results for samples collected from the well in question exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level for carbon tetrachloride.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, carbon tetrachloride is a manufactured chemical that was most often used in the production of refrigeration fluid and propellants for aerosol cans, as a pesticide, as a cleaning fluid and degreasing agent, in fire extinguishers and in spot removers.
“Because of its harmful effects, these uses are now banned and it is only used in some industrial applications,” according to the CDC.
And some people who drink water containing carbon tetrachloride in excess of the standard over many years could experience problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of cancer, said the notice.
Town officials said that if they had reason to believe any of the town’s wells violated the standard they would immediately remove the well from service. The town’s other two wells did not test positive for any contaminant.
Tim Church, director of water resources for the town, said the town is now subject to increased testing to verify what he believes was an error on the part of the lab. He said the town has no history of testing for volatile compounds and the results from that particular lab were so high that he believes that level of reported concentration isn’t even realistic.
“There is absolutely nothing to it,” sad Church. “What has happened, as explained in the public notice, we had a lab error from the original private lab that we hired to conduct the sample. It was a high level that was unrealistic and we have since sampled the well twice since then. We’ve got two quarterly samples since and they all came back below detection level. There were no measurable amounts of any volatile organic compound.”
Church said the issuance of the public notice was protocol for any municipality provider facing the same situation and circumstances.
“It’s very important to understand how the state addresses issues and the way the rules are written,” he said. “There are no conditions made for this type of situation. There are no rules to accommodate a situation like this. We have to go by the numbers the lab generates. When we a have high number, it triggers public notices. We were required to to increase sampling for VOC at that spot. We went from annual to quarterly sampling because of the high number.”
Church said additional samples allowed the town to verify there is no contaminant in that well. The town has since contracted with a different lab after receiving the ambiguous results, which could be the result of faulty calibration, he said.
“So far, the samples in the first two quarters prove that,” he said. “And we will do it again in July and October and that will complete quarterly sampling. Once they come back with results, the quarterly sampling will be removed and we will go back to annual sampling.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.