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EPA Addresses Health Concerns

Residents Get Information About Water Contamination

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Sep 2, 2020

EPA Water testing area around Berger Field in Paden City.

Activity in Paden City by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has brought forth information which relates to Paden City residents heath concerns regarding groundwater and soil contamination, which contributes to the possibility of vapor intrusion.

A recent letter from the EPA to Paden City residents brought out facts that will help determine whether the sites tested within the city will be placed on the National Priorities List as a Superfund project.

At the present time the EPA is investigating the source and extent of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination in the groundwater and the potential for vapor intrusion. Vapor intrusion occurs when certain chemicals (dry cleaning in particular) get into the ground and eventually the vapors enter through cracks in basements, foundations, sewers and other openings.

The EPA is currently investigating the extent of PCE contamination in the groundwater.

The EPA has found groundwater contamination near one former dry cleaning operation located along Rt.2, near Paden City High School and it’s sports facilities.

The EPA is also investigating the possibility that vapor intrusion from PCE contamination might be affecting residences and facilities near the suspected sources of the contamination.

The EPA expects to begin Phase 2 of field work in late Summer 2020. It will include additional groundwater sampling near two other former dry cleaning facilities, plus vapor intrusion sampling at Paden City High School.

A recent Investigation Removal Evaluation Report was prepared by TechLaw for the U.S. EPA Region 111 Wheeling, WV.

TechLaw, Inc. was tasked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 111 to conduct a Removal Assessment in Paden City, Wetzel County, West Virginia. The report provides a summary of the investigation activities conducted as part of the Paden City Site Assessment. The activities were conducted under the direction of the EPA Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team.

The Site description for the investigation consists of mixed residential and commercial areas within the City limits of Paden City, in the vicinity of the City’s four municipal drinking water wells and water treatment plant.

Based on background documents received by the EPA, tetrachloroethlene was found in Paden City’s drinking water during water testing in 2010. The highest concentration was reported at 49.6 micrograms per liter in the municipal well number 2. Four drinking water wells were sampled on August 15, 2017 with three of the four indicating the presence of PCE. Samples of raw water and treated water were collected on August 21, 2017, with PCE concentrations of 7.58ug/L in the raw water and 4.32ug/L in the treated water. A drinking water sample from the city distribution system on May 21,2018 had detection of PCE at 5.53 ug/L. The safe drinking water act allows 5 ug/L.

The location of the former dry cleaning facility was identified in the area near the city well field. The former Band Box Cleaners operated a dry cleaning facility at 223 North 4th Avenue in Paden City. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) documents indicate that the dry cleaning business was operated at the location for approximately 16 years.

On September 27,2018, the EPA, TechLaw, City Officials, the WVDEP, Trasher Engineering, consultants for Paden City, and the West Virginia Rural Water Association met for discussions and planning to address the issue. The City Water Plant Operator informed the group of contamination in certain wells along with some action taken to shut down a well. The plant operator also took the group on a tour of the city water plant, the city wells, and the location of the former dry cleaners.

Following the tour, the group met at the City Building to discuss the project. Several plans of action were put into place including an EPA plan for a work plan of investigation, which would include the area surrounding the former dry cleaner property, plus sampling of the sanitary sewer and groundwater. Plans were made to run a camera through the sewer line to attempt to identify any potential leaks. Also plans were made to install transducers in the city wells to measure groundwater levels.

On November 8, 2018, the on scene coordinator (OSC) and TechLaw met with the WVDEP and city officials to identify specific locations for installation of groundwater monitoring wells. Locations selected for two sites were on Paden City High School property. The group met with school officials to explain planned activities and obtained access to the property to install the wells. They also met with the current owner of the former dry cleaner property and explained planned investigation activities. The owner later signed and granted the EPA access to conduct the investigation on the property. Wissmach Glass, a local manufacturing plant also signed and granted the EPA aces to collect a sample from the plant facility well.

Results from the sampling for PCE, the primary contaminant of concern for the investigation, was detected in 11 of the 19 subsurface soil samples. The PCE concentrations in the soil samples ranged from non-detect to 19,000,000 micrograms per kilogram. Results from the sampling for PCE, was also detected in 10 of 1 groundwater samples collected from municipal wells, EPA monitoring wells, and an industrial process well. PCE concentrations ranged from non-detect to 4,700 ug/L.

Conclusions and Recommendations from the investigation and sampling identified a significant source area of PCE contamination in subsurface soil on the eastern side of the former dry cleaners located at 233 N. 4th Avenue. However monitoring wells installed between the former dry cleaners and the municipal wells were at very small levels or non-detect.

Recommendations for further investigations call for groundwater elevations in monitoring wells and municipal wells to be monitored and the results should be used to do groundwater modeling to elevate groundwater flow direction in the area. With the information to be used to identify locations for installing additional monitoring wells.

Also recommended is installation of additional monitoring wells to help define the plume migration form the former dry cleaners. Installation of nested wells to evaluate shallow perched water zones as well as the deeper alluvial aquifer may be warranted.

It is recommended that additional subsurface soil sampling be conducted to better define the contamination plume in subsurface soil near the former dry cleaners. The main source plume has not been delineated to the east, and there is a residence located across the street to the east of the former dry cleaners. An evaluation of the potential for vapor intrusion in the adjacent residence should be considered.

Starting September 8 & 9, 2020, more monitoring wells and soils samples will be installed and taken from other ares in the city including those near the Rockwell Cleaners was located. Results from those wells and samples will later help determine the status of Paden City for the superfund project and list.

Much of the monitoring wells, soil samples, the investigation and the entire project can be contributed to work done by the Paden City Water Crisis group who have worked countless hours with all agencies including the EPA, WVDEP, the City, and the Erin Brockovich law firm to get results to make the community aware of the danger.

Although the city has recently built a new Water treatment facility known as the stripper plant, several sources say it is not the proper plant to effectively deal with this kind of contamination. In fact Robert Balcock working with Erin Brockovich says a GAC System would have been ideal and much more efficient to properly clean the chemical from the drinking water, by using carbon filters, made from coal right here in West Virginia.

The Paden City Water Crisis Group is currently doing resident health surveys which will be used to help determine the extent the PCE has had on individuals health throughout their exposure to the chemical. Interested individuals who are interested in the survey should contact a member of the group or go online to the Paden City Water Crisis Group for more information.