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Spencer Groundwater Chemical Plume Added To EPA’s Superfund Priority List

The chemical has has adversely impacted the city’s municipal well field, which provides water to about 9,900 residents (WFIU/WTIU News).

The EPA is placing a Spencer groundwater chemical plume site on its highest priority list for hazardous waste cleanup.

The EPA announced Tuesday it was adding Spencer’s Franklin Street Groundwater Contamination site to the list, but the contamination isn’t new. The site was first discovered in 2011 and the hazardous chemical, Tetrachloroethylene, or PERC, was found in 2014.

BBP Water Corporation CEO Todd Gardner says he doesn’t know why the EPA wants to add the site now. Gardner says while the water does have levels of PERC it’s still below the maximum contaminant level and is safe to drink.

“All’s we’re doing is being proactive and making sure that we’re doing everything we can,” Gardner says. “And we’ve worked with IDEM making sure that we’re treating water and putting out the safest water to our customers.”

In BBP’s Annual Quality Water Report, the levels of tetrachloroethylene measured 0.7 parts per billion with the maximum contaminant level of 5.

Meanwhile, the heavy metal lead increased from .0017 parts per million in 2016 to 2.7 parts per billion in 2017. Arsenic also increased from not monitored in 2016 to 1.5 parts per billion in 2017.  However, each have a maximum contaminant level of at least 10, so Gardner says they weren’t detectable.

“We take a sample and we send it to a certified state lab they … their measuring equipment will only go down to a certain level. They can’t pick it up so that means it’s non-detectable,” he says.

BBP says “MCLs are set at very stringent levels. To understand the possible health effects described from many regulated constituents, a person would have to drink 2 liters of water every day at the MCL level for a lifetime to have a one-in-a-million change of having the described health effects.”

In 2014, the EPA recorded the chemical PERC was found in raw water at all three active municipal wells, but Gardner says now it’s only detected in one of those.

The EPA says they moved the site to the priority list after the IDEM identified nine active and former facilities they say may be contributing to the contamination.

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