Read the full article by Michael Wetzel
“TOWN CREEK — U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said he is just beginning his investigation of the possibility of tainted drinking water in Lawrence County, but he plans to get the federal government involved if necessary…
Jones met Wednesday evening with Don Sims, general manager of the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority. The authority has a lawsuit pending against 3M Co. for allegedly disposing of waste contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) generated from its Decatur plant.
The authority draws its water downstream of 3M. Until installing a carbon filtration system, its drinking water had high levels of the possible carcinogens.
PFOA and PFOS were once were used in the production of Scotchgard and have also been used in stain repellents and numerous other anti-stick products.
Sims said it costs the authority $300,000 per year to replace the carbon in the filtration system used to clean the river water. The carbon system has been ineffective at removing various chemicals related to PFOA and PFOS, leading him to push his board to authorize financing the installation of a reverse osmosis filtration system.
Jones met with Sims, local commissioners and mayors about the water issue for about 30 minutes at the Town Creek Library.
He said the governor and attorney general should go to Lawrence County and learn more about the problem and concerns of the people. He said it should be addressed by the state, and by the federal government if necessary.
He said Hueytown and the Black Belt portion of the state have water concerns, too.
As an arm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Jones said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management needs to address the water-quality issue.
‘They need to come up and look,’ Jones said. ‘And if there is not a problem up here, let them come up here and tell everybody and explain why there’s not a problem. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. If not, let’s alleviate the concerns.’ …
Sims said he sent a letter to 22 state and federal politicians in the summer, and Jones is the first to respond to his concerns…
‘Our customers should not have to pay for it,’ he said. ‘We’re having to temporarily clean up the contamination of the river. The industries have used our river for a sewer for years.
‘This is a serious problem,’ Sims added. ‘This isn’t something we need to raise the rug up and sweep it under until everybody feels better. … My biggest problem with the whole process is they still have a permit to put it in the river.’
In July, the water authority reached a $4 million settlement with Daikin America Inc. The settlement did not prevent its customers from pursuing separate claims, either individually or through a class action.”