A West Deptford plastics company has agreed to test a number of private wells as officials investigate contamination that has prompted scrutiny at all levels of government.
Solvay Specialty Polymers, headquartered on Leonard Lane, said Thursday that it would test at least 90 wells in the township and in East Greenwich to determine the spread of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), specifically perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).
Residents whose wells will be tested can receive free, delivered bottled water from the company, because the testing “may generate concern,” Solvay said. The company has also offered free water to residents in Paulsboro, where a public well has been found to have the highest level of the contaminant among public drinking supplies.
Solvay maintains it stopped using PFCs in 2010, but the presence of PFNA has prompted five Gloucester County towns to shut down wells because of the unclear health impact.
West Deptford residents at a hearing with state Department of Environmental Protection representatives last month questioned whether and when Solvay would test private wells.
“Those of us who don’t have public water, we’re sitting here wondering, ‘What about us?’ ” said Ed Komczyk, 75, a member of the township Environmental Commission. “We’re drinking water that hasn’t been tested.”
Komczyk said he had not been told whether his well on Hillside Road near Mantua Creek would be tested. Several Paulsboro residents have filed suit against Solvay. In its release Thursday, the company said: “Actions taken by Solvay should not be taken to mean that there is any health issue with respect to PFNA or that Solvay is in any way responsible for PFNA if it is found.”
PFCs remain unregulated, and their presence in water supplies has spurred discussion about possible restrictions on the chemicals.
The Drinking Water Quality Institute, a recently convened panel that advises the DEP, is looking at setting maximum levels of PFNA and related contaminants. The DEP is also considering an interim groundwater criterion for PFNA.
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has also agreed to examine the South Jersey contamination.
Solvay’s well testing will be conducted by an outside firm, Integral Consulting, and samples will be sent to a state-certified lab.