The township has shut down one of its six water supply wells after finding evidence of an industrial chemical currently causing problems in Paulsboro’s drinking water.
West Deptford acting administrator Brandon Umba on Friday stated the shutdown is “precautionary,” and stressed that the township’s tap water is safe to drink.
Complaints of water contamination have been rampant in neighboring Paulsboro, where tests of the main water supply there revealed levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), such as perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), of up to 150 parts per trillion.
While there are no drinking water standards for PFNA, that was enough for a state Department of Environmental Protection official to write a letter advising Paulsboro residents that infants and children up to age one should stick to bottled water or liquid prepared formula.
In West Deptford, the discovery of PFCs in Paulsboro led the DEP to direct the Solvay Solexis plastics facility — located in the township — to begin testing water supply wells last October.
In a report submitted on Dec. 5, 2013, Solvay Solexis stated samples from well number three, located on Jessup Road near Greenfields, returned evidence of PFNA.
“However, the DEP has yet to qualify those results, and they are asking for more tests,” said Umba.
The number three well was shut down seven weeks later, on Thursday, Jan. 23.
“We met with the DEP on Tuesday, and while we didn’t get any guidance from them, it was decided to shut down the well as a precaution,” said Umba. “This can be done without affecting the water service in West Deptford, and nowhere are residents at risk for drinking the water.”
The five other wells in the township were given a clean bill of health, according to the township.
While Umba described the number three well as “one of the smaller ones” in the township, it, together with the number five well, feeds the largest water tank in West Deptford.
Located on Jessup Road near I-295, the tank serves the central part of the township, and assists the tanks at both the northern and southern ends of the municipality.
“Shutting off the number three well shouldn’t be a problem — it’s winter and we usually have less demand on the water system during these months than we do in the summer,” said Umba.
The administrator said there currently is no timeline for turning the well back on.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network — an environmental group that first brought attention to this issue — have stated the contaminants in Paulsboro stem from the Solvay Solexis plant. The company used PFNA in its production process until 2010.
Representatives from Solvay Solexis have recently said they are working with the DEP to find a solution to the problem. The company is testing surface water and sediments in the Delaware River, groundwater and drinking wells, the DEP said.