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Archive for Monday, October 17, 2005

EPA warns town not to use well water

October 17, 2005

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— Federal officials this week plan to pass out fliers warning Wright residents not to use private wells to fill swimming pools or water gardens unless they've been cleared of containing the heavy metal thallium.

"If the water from a private well has not been tested for thallium, residents should use the water only for watering lawns and gardens of nonedible plants," the flier reads.

State and federal health officials also plan to meet with residents Thursday to explain the fliers.

The Environmental Protection Agency installed water filters in Wright homes after inspectors in 1988 detected two dangerous chemicals in the soil of a two-block area of Wright, which is in southwest Kansas. The chemicals, trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, are used in dry cleaning and for washing off mechanical equipment. Environmental officials still don't know where the contamination came from.

In 1997, the city hooked onto Dodge City's water supply, eliminating the need for private drinking water wells.

Engineers studying the contaminated site said it didn't appear that the chemicals had spread to other water supplies. But, to play it safe, the EPA continues to monitor the site and plans to install two new monitoring wells next week to warn against further contamination of ground water.

The EPA also brought in the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to study the continued use of private well water. The agency, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommended passing out the fliers.

Environmental officials said some private wells in the contaminated area have high levels of nitrates, volatile organic compounds, lead and thallium, but only thallium is prevalent enough to worry researchers. They added that there is little study of thallium and its effects.

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