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Water crisis spurs Wood County cities to connect

VIENNA, W.Va. — Work began Tuesday to connect the water lines between Vienna and Parkersburg, a project prompted by the C8 situation in Vienna.

“This is a wonderful thing,” Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said.

The project has been discussed for years and was brought to the forefront after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday established a health advisory for long-term exposure to C8, also called PFOA, of 0.07 parts per billion, lowered from the 0.4 ppb short-term health advisory set in 2009.

 

C8, an unregulated chemical by the EPA which was used to make Teflon at the former DuPont Washington Works, now Chemours, is a suspected carcinogen and has been linked, in a study, to six diseases in humans kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy induced hypertension including preeclampsia and hypercholesterolemia and was the subject of a class action lawsuit settled in 2005. A science panel established by the settlement of a lawsuit against the company studied the health data of 70,000 residents in the region.

C8 concentration in the water from Vienna wells has been above 0.1 ppb, according to the latest test results. September tests in Parkersburg showed concentrations of from 0.072 ppb to 0.013 ppb in three wells and non-quantifiable at two other wells, but was below 0.07 ppb in the treated water.

The connection will serve about a third of Vienna water customers from 23rd Street south, which covers the bulk of commercial customers in the city, Vienna Public Works Director Craig Metz said.

Customers north of 23rd will be unaffected by the connection and their options will be to use bottled water or water from tankers at distribution points, he said. That situation will continue until other measures are in place, Metz said.

Chemours, which was spun off from DuPont last year, on Saturday announced the company will finance the installation of carbon filters to remove C8 from the potable water. Similar systems have been installed at six local utilities, as required by the settlement of the lawsuit, and at Hoosick Falls, N.Y., where C8 has not been detected after installation of the filtration systems.

While engineering design has been underway, installation would take several months and that time schedule has yet to be announced.

The connection between Parkersburg and Vienna should be completed today, Rapp said. He estimated affected customers could be able to use tap water as early as Thursday.

The timeline will be affected by how long it takes to flush the lines and the two 500,000-gallon storage tanks of existing water, said Craig Richards, an engineer with Burgess and Niple, the consultant engineers for the Vienna and Parkersburg utility boards.

“We’ve never been in a situation like this before,” he said.

The City of Parkersburg has ample capacity for the additional usage, but the size of the pipe, 8 inches, limits the number of users, Eric Bennett, manager of the Parkersburg Utility Board, said.

Project cost is more than $10,000, the bulk of which is two temporary booster pumps, Rapp said. The first consideration is the installation, then the city will determine whether to ask Chemours to pay for it, he said.

“It doesn’t matter at this moment,” Rapp said.

“Our commitment was for water filtration,” Robin Ollis-Stemple, a spokesman for Chemours, said.

Thursday’s announcement by the EPA was not a surprise. The agency has said it will issue a long-term advisory while the state of New York last year dropped the concentration to 0.1 ppb and the states of Vermont and New Hampshire set a level of 0.02 ppb.

However, residents and commercial customers in Vienna have been impacted. The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department on Thursday issued an advisory to not drink the water and restaurants were instructed to post a notice if using tap water for the preparation of food and beverages.

Stores began stocking massive quantities of bottled water.

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