Related — Focus on EPA after Horsham contamination meeting

“Horsham TWP. >> Residents and local lawmakers spent much of Wednesday afternoon sending a clear message to the federal Environmental Protection Agency — they want contaminated groundwater near two former airbases cleaned up as soon as possible.

‘These neighbors are asking ‘How could this happen?’ And what medical challenges are in their future, and in the future of their children?’ said state Rep. Tom Murt, R-152nd Dist.

Murt was one of dozens of local residents and officials who spoke during an EPA community engagement meeting meant to gather feedback from area residents on the cleanup of two contaminants — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — found in public and private wells in the area of former air stations in Horsham and Warminster townships, and linked to firefighting chemicals used there.

‘Today, we are here to listen, not only at a regional level but at a national level. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to learn from each other,’ said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.

The EPA announced in May four priorities for tackling the groundwater contamination, in the Horsham and Warminster areas and at other similar sites across the country, according to Servidio and Peter Grevatt, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.

The EPA is currently in the process of evaluating the proper maximum contaminant level of PFOA and PFOS, while starting the process of designating the two as hazardous substances under federal Superfund laws…

Representatives from Horsham, Warrington and Warminster each described how those three townships have all committed to reducing levels of PFOS and PFOA well below the EPA’s advisory level of 70 parts per trillion, down to a non-detectible level, and all three gave updates on how filtration systems have been added to contaminated wells and new connections made for residents with contaminated wells to use public systems, but with little movement on federal funding to fix those problems.

‘We’re looking to EPA and the federal government to set a standard for PFOS and PFOA which would require the Department of Defense to assist with funding, that would make all of the water non-detectible,’ said Warrington Township Manager Barry Luber.

‘These three communities are all pretty much non-detectible, but the biggest issue with all three of us is reimbursement. All three communities, and rightly so, want it to non-detectible status, and so we want reimbursement of costs we’ve already incurred, but also future costs,’ said Horsham Township Manager Bill Walker.

A series of resident groups also took the floor to raise concerns of other areas that have also found contamination in recent months, including Upper Dublin, whose township Manager Paul Leonard said his 28,000 residents currently receive drinking water from three different utilities, one of which – Aqua Pennsylvania – has detected contamination levels below the 70 PPT level, but above the nondetectible level, in two of their wells.

‘Aqua, through my assessment as township manager, is in need of your support for a rapid understanding of the conditions for groundwater contamination, and the impact on other wells, as well as surface water sources, for drinking water,’ he said.

Leonard said his township’s commissioners voted earlier this month to indicate their unanimous support from a bill sponsored by Murt, the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act or House Bill 705, which would set a state standard of only five PPT for PFOS and PFOA each, well below the current EPA level of a combined 70 PPT. Township residents Mark Cuker, Lisa Faden and Jill Florin spoke out on behalf of a new Facebook group they have created, entitled ‘Upper Dublin Water Updates,’ meant to raise awareness of the contamination detected in that township and push for a lower standard there.

‘Suffice it to say, we’re not happy with the status quo,’ Cuker said.

Florin and Faden said they have heard from Aqua representatives that filtration systems on the two affected wells would cost roughly $1 million each, but the company is working on a series of tiers to specify what level of contaminants they find acceptable, all of which are below the 70 PPT EPA level but above the nondetectible level.

‘I’ve heard other townships, who really are doing everything in their power to get their water levels down to nondetectible levels. Unfortunately, our township has Aqua, and Aqua has done nothing,’ said Florin.”

Read the full article by Dan Sokil