Traces of hazardous chemical found in 3 Aberdeen drinking-water wells

August 01, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Traces of a hazardous chemical have turned up in three wells that provide drinking water to the city of Aberdeen, test results released yesterday by Aberdeen Proving Ground show.

In June, perchlorate was detected in one of 11 city wells around the base's perimeter. The chemical did not reappear in that well when water was tested July 23, but it was detected in three others, said Pat McClung, APG spokeswoman.

City Manager Peter A. Dacey said "there's no need for alarm," because the perchlorate appeared at low levels - between 1.2 and 1.7 parts per billion.

The city does not plan to close the three wells, Dacey said yesterday, but it will begin testing for perchlorate weekly, instead of biweekly as it has been.

"Because it is at such a low level, it's getting diluted by the water from the other wells that we have, so right now it's not a major concern," he said.

Tests did not find perchlorate in the "finished water" that residents drink, McClung said.

Used in explosives, the chemical is linked to thyroid dysfunction. It was first detected in ground water in the area in March of last year. Later tests showed it moving closer to five drinking-water wells on and around the base.

The city and the Army installation are trying to locate the source of the chemical, McClung said.

Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not issued a national standard for perchlorate in drinking water, the agency expects to issue a health advisory this year that could recommend a safe level for drinking water in the range of 1 part per billion.

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