Fluoride Action Network

At Paulsboro water info session ‘a constructive dialogue’ is aim

Source: South Jersey Times | February 18th, 2014 | By Rebecca Forand
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

Solvay Specialty Polymers — the West Deptford-based company that has been blamed for contaminating the borough’s water — will send representatives to Paulsboro’s town council meeting Tuesday, hoping to provide helpful information to the dozens of residents expected to attend.

Borough council has moved its regular work session meeting from the municipal building to the town’s high school auditorium and invited the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health and Solvay to co-host an information session regarding high levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), such as perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), in the water supply.

Representatives from Solvay said Monday they have been working with the DEP and the borough of Paulsboro to remedy the problem and they hope to have a “constructive dialogue” with concerned citizens at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We are here to help and we’re going to work very hard with the borough of Paulsboro to address the water quality on Well No. 7,” said Chuck Jones, a spokesman for Solvay.

In August of last year, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network exposed water tests that showed extremely high levels of PFNA in Paulsboro’s water and identified Solvay as the source of the chemical.

In the months following, the borough’s residents and council have expressed worry and concern over the quality of their water, at least two lawsuits have been filed and the DEP has issued a response asking residents to use “an abundance of caution,” by using bottled water for the most sensitive population: Infants and children younger than a year.

According to Solvay and Paulsboro Mayor Jeff Hamilton, a lot has been going on behind the scenes since that time to rectify that problem, and they hope to tell the borough’s residents about this at the public session.

Solvay has conducted its own tests on the water in both Paulsboro and West Deptford and found results similar to what was previously reported. Paulsboro’s Well No. 7 has very high levels, but wells 8 and 9 — which are currently shut down because of naturally occurring radium, which is being treated — have little to no PFCs. West Deptford’s public water supply has also tested with very low levels.

The company, which makes plastic coatings used in various industries, began providing bottled water to Paulsboro residents with infants on Jan. 31 and is currently working with the DEP and the borough of Paulsboro to determine the best course of action to remove the chemical from the water.

An activated carbon filtration system and the water treatment plant is the most common remedy used, but Solvay and the borough are vetting multiple possible actions.

“We’re actually working now with the water department in Paulsboro and will come out jointly with a draft report hopefully identifying the best technology,” said David Klucsik, another spokesman for Solvay.

“They’ve been working really close,” added Hamilton.

PFCs are widespread in the environment and found worldwide in wildlife, people, soil and groundwater. They are unregulated in the United States and no safe levels exist for them in drinking water, since they have yet to be fully studied. Health effects have yet to be found in people. They do, however, bioaccumulate in the body and have been found to be potentially toxic to lab animals.

Tuesday’s meeting is aimed at informing Paulsboro’s residents about what they are dealing with, the issues involved and remedies available.

Hamilton and the borough council decided to invite the DEP, DOH and Solvay to attend in order to provide a full scope of knowledge on the topic.

“I want them to educate our community on what’s going on,” Hamilton said. “But people are going to have to be there to listen.”

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Paulsboro High School Auditorium, 670 N. Delaware St.