Sustained Outrage

OMG: EPA forgets about Parkersburg

We just published a story about an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it has lowered the trigger level for DuPont Co. to have to provide alternative drinking water for folks in the Parkersburg area whose water is contaminated with the toxic chemical C8.

EPA posted its deal with DuPont here, and also issued a “Fact Sheet” to provide more information about the matter.

An interesting line in this “Fact Sheet” reports that: “All of the area’s large public water systems, including Belpre, Little Hocking, Lubeck, Mason County, Tupper Plains/Chester and Pomeroy, are already treating water for PFOA.”

Well, what about the largest public water system in the area? That’s the Parkersburg Utility Board, which serves the city itself. It serves more than 36,000 people, according to EPA’s own data.

Parkersburg’s system is currently not  treating water to remove C8. As I’ve explained in numerous Gazette stories, residents of the city itself were not part of the landmark class-action settlement that required DuPont to provide water treatment for systems in the outlying areas around Parkersburg. And U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin refused to certify a class action case against DuPont on behalf of city residents.

That lawsuit settlement required DuPont to provide treatment or alternative water supplies for residents (again, outside of the city of Parkersburg) if their water had more than 0.05 parts per billion of C8.

EPA’s new deal with DuPont requires the company to provide treatment or alternative water supplies where water contains more than 0.4 parts per billion of C8. But this won’t help residents of the city, where C8 has recently been measured at 0.049 parts per billion.

The problem? EPA is setting its limit based only on short-term exposure which it said today should be defined as “weeks to months.”

What about the people of Parkersburg, who have been drinking C8-contaminated water for years and aren’t protected by this EPA action?

In New Jersey, environmental regulators suggested a long-term limit for C8 in drinking water should be on the order of 10 times more stringent (lower) than this EPA short-term level.  When that New Jersey guideline was written, the state’s top environmental official was Lisa Jackson — who just happens to be President Barack Obama’s new EPA administrator.