Topeka Federal officials Wednesday tried to notify hundreds of clients of a southeast Kansas laboratory under criminal investigation to have their samples re-tested by another laboratory.
Quality Water Analysis Laboratories Inc. of Pittsburg has been shut down by authorities, and its top officials have been accused of falsifying records during a five-year period that were used to determine the safety of wastewater and treated hazardous wastes dumped back into Kansas streams by municipalities and industries.
In a letter sent to nearly 900 clients of the lab, Ray Bosch, an Environmental Protection Agency attorney, said, "It is possible that the analytical results you received from QWAL for any sample you submitted was inaccurate. If you are continuing to rely upon the accuracy of the sample you submitted to QWAL, it is recommended that you submit new samples to a different laboratory."
Notifying all clients
QWAL provided the names of customers, Bosch said, and investigators are trying to sift through QWAL's records to determine if there are any more clients to notify. He said QWAL's customers included cities, industries and rural water districts.
Bosch said that he didn't believe there was any health threat posed by the falsified records, but he couldn't rule out the possibility.
Last month, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment ordered the facility shut down, a move that sent managers of water and wastewater systems scrambling to have samples re-tested, including the city of Lawrence.
At that time, Shari Stammer, water quality manager for Lawrence, said the city would re-test wastewater effluent samples that had been handled by QWAL. Stammer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
An attorney representing the laboratory, Carl Gallagher of Kansas City, Kan., has said that QWAL was cooperating with authorities.
EPA also is trying to contact environmental engineering firms working on behalf of other clients. Bosch said he wants those firms to notify their clients about the situation.
The lab was searched in September by EPA agents.
In Bosch's letter, he states that QWAL has acknowledged "that it falsified data and failed to follow proper analytical procedures for samples submitted to its facility between 1996 and September 2001."
The falsified records included those the state used to determine whether the quality of wastewater dumped back into rivers and streams by municipal and industrial treatment plants is within the permitted levels of pollutants, the KDHE said.