Thursday, September 10, 2009

Drinking well contamination probed in Nockamixon

Possible drinking well contamination probed
The Intelligencer
State officials are investigating a possible hazardous chemical contamination in Nockamixon.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection is looking into elevated levels of trichloroethylene, commonly called TCE, in drinking wells near Route 412 and Route 611.

Agency scientists began testing wells at 16 homes along routes 412 and 611 last month and are awaiting completed questionnaires from those homeowners before further testing, said DEP spokeswoman Lynda Rebarchak.

The DEP is working to investigate the contamination's severity, how far it has spread and whether there is an active pollution source.

"We want to get out there and look at some of these homes that have TCE levels in their wells and those who are in close proximity to the wells just to get a sense of what's going on," she said.

With no public water system, Nockamixon Township homes, schools and businesses rely on their own private wells, which draw from the same groundwater.

Unfortunately, TCE contamination is not uncommon, said Rebarchak.

The chemical was once a commonly used degreasing agent in any number of businesses.

It was also used by homeowners, and at one point was even used as a degreasing agent in septic systems.

"Quite often, what we're seeing now is because of handling from 20 to 30 years ago or more," she said.

Drinking or breathing high levels of TCE can cause a variety of nervous system problems, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, and possibly death, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

TCE is also believed to cause cancer.

Amanda Cregan can be reached at 215-538-6371 or

September 09, 2009 02:39 AM

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