Richburg issues do not drink order to public after herbicide discovered in water

RICHBURG, S.C. - It could be Monday or Tuesday before hundreds of people in Chester County can drink their water again.
The Chester Metropolitan District warned residents not to drink or cook with the water in Richburg because of concerns about a chemical herbicide that might have gotten into the system.
The concern comes from a small pond outside the company, Foot Print off of Highway 9, that makes packaging material.
The pond is a large water supply in case of a fire.   
An herbicide known as flumioxazin is put in the pond to kill algae.
Officials said that a backflow valve in the system failed, which is designed to keep the pond water out of the public water system.   
The failure may have allowed some pond water and possibly the herbicide into the system.
"I wouldn't encourage anybody to drink it until we tell you that it's safe to drink," said Fred Castles, who heads the Chester Metropolitan District. "We issued this warning out of an abundance of caution." 
Castles said the chemical is not considered dangerous, but they want to make sure there are still no trace amounts in the water supply.
The do not drink warning affects 250 customers in Richburg, which is about 700 people.
It does not affect residents on Highway 9.   
Utility company employees took bottled water door-to-door to residents and left more at the Richburg Fire Department for those affected by the advisory.
Gerald Hensley and his wife Patricia received some bottled water that was delivered to their door. He said that utility employees contacted them and explained the situation.
"They made real effort to contact people and these were live individuals that were making the phone calls. So, they were concerned that you weren't drinking that water," Hensley said.
Officials are flushing out fire hydrants near the plant and on the half-dozen streets in the area.   
The chemical herbicide is considered mildly toxic and looks blue in water, which makes it easy to see. 
Officials said that they found some blue water in the plant and at a residence but are still testing other places to be sure the chemical is not present.
"We've flushed for the last three days.  We've been sampling, and we're sending samples off tomorrow to California," Castles said.
He expects to have results by the end of the weekend. 
If they get the all-clear, residents will be contacted and told the water is safe.
Read the original article here.

Spokane considers hydrant locks after Hillyard water contamination

SPOKANE, Wash. — After some Hillyard residents were unable to drink or cook with their water in July, the City of Spokane is looking into ways to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

The contamination occurred in the neighborhood when a commercial hydroseed truck pumping water from a hydrant allowed backflow into the water system.

Many water usage meters in the affected area had to be replaced, as they were clogged with hydroseed fibers.

The city is considering two options: installing locks on fire hydrants to prevent unauthorized access or constructing fill stations that contractors can use to access water rather than hooking up into hydrants.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the city will decide what the best course of action is based on the cost and effectiveness.

She did not have an estimate for how much such technology could cost but said it would be paid for through City of Spokane Water Department revenues. However, she acknowledged that regardless, in order for the change to be effective, the cost would likely be in the million-dollar range.

Feist said a reasonable estimate of the cost of the Hillyard incident is about $50,000, though this is not exact.


Instituting more secure systems would be more an investment in assuring clean water than saving the city money, she said.

The company whose trucks allowed the backflow is still unknown, nearly six weeks after the contamination.

Feist said the incident is still under investigation with help from the Spokane Police Department, though she and Spokane Police Department spokesman Terry Preuninger both noted that it's not a formal criminal investigation.

The fact that the responsible party still hasn't come forward could ultimately land them in even more trouble.


"If you know you've caused a problem, you should tell somebody. So now it's been weeks. So that might be some of their reticence in coming forward," Feist said.

Nearby Post Falls has had locks on its hydrants for nearly 20 years.

Matthew Isch, chief operator of the city’s Water Division, said that the city physically installed locks on all of the hydrants, with each one taking a few minutes each.

Anyone who wants to use the hydrant must take out a permit with the city. An employee then inspects the vehicles for backflow protections devices and unlocks the hydrants.

The city does even share locks with the fire departments and tells them to cut it off in case of emergency.

Post Falls has tried using meters and other devices, similar to Coeur d’Alene, but found that they were often vandalized, Isch said.

“We always say [to the public], ‘If you see something that looks odd, say something,’” Isch said.

As it stands, Spokane requires companies to seek permits for hydrant access, and those permits require proof of employee training and possession of backflow prevention equipment.


But the hydrants are technically accessible to basically anybody. Without locks, all it requires are a few specialized tools to open a cap and turn on the water.

Author: Megan Carroll, Casey Decker
Published: 11:30 AM PDT September 3, 2019
Updated: 5:18 AM PDT September 4, 2019

CertainTeed fined for drinking water violations


CertainTeed Corp. will pay $365,500 in civil penalties to settle alleged violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act at its vinyl siding manufacturing plant in Westlake, La., which had no approved source of drinking water for its employees for years.
The Malvern, Pa.-based building products company failed to correct "significant deficiencies" identified during a sanitary survey of the Lake Charles plant by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). The violations included failure to provide approved and permitted drinking water for the 43 employees as well as failure to monitor and test for contaminants that can result in adverse health effects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also inspected the site, says the settlement calls for "the largest civil penalty payment under the Safe Drinking Water Act by a public water system with respect to drinking water in the state of Louisiana."
"This is an excellent example of the EPA and Louisiana working together to ensure compliance with safe drinking water standards," EPA Region 6 Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Director Cheryl Seager said in an Aug. 24 news release. "We are committed to protecting the public health and will not hesitate to hold companies accountable who refuse to comply with the law."
The health department identified the significant deficiencies, which were related to drinking water treatment requirements, in December 2012, and EPA issued CertainTeed an administrative order in May 2014 to correct them. EPA conducted a follow-up inspection in June 2015 and found several areas of concern.
"The facility has no ​ state-approved source of potable water. The potable water system is being fed from nonpotable sources," EPA's June 9, 2015, inspection report said.
The report also takes CertainTeed to task for not having the water system supervised by a certified operator.
CertainTeed reportedly has three wells at the site. The easternmost, which was designated as the potable water source to serve five buildings and emergency wash stations, was damaged by Hurricane Rita in September 2005. The north and south wells reportedly were nonpotable and used to fill large tanks for the fire suppression system and cooling towers.
The exact time that the drinking water well was abandoned wasn't determined by investigators. The 2015 EPA report says plant operators then used a 1-inch pipe to pull water from the fire suppression system, which was supplied by the industrial wells, to a liquid chlorinator.
Liquid chlorine was used to disinfect the water. There was no filtration and no pipe backflow prevention to keep chlorinated water from going back into the fire suppression system tanks, according to EPA.
A ¾-inch pipe "coming from the chlorine tank" then supplied buildings, eye wash stations and emergency showers throughout the facility. Several utility operators took daily chlorine residuals.
EPA gave CertainTeed several options in June 2015 to address the concerns. The company could rehabilitate the eastern well or make one of the other wells suitable for potable water. CertainTeed took more than four years to address the violations, despite numerous enforcement efforts by EPA and the state of Louisiana, including letters from the LDH, a joint inspection by LDH and EPA, and an EPA administrative order, according to an Aug. 24 EPA news release.
In an emailed statement to Plastics News, CertainTeed said the plant has installed a new drinking water well and has taken steps to ensure compliance going forward.
"The safety of its employees, the environment and the communities it serves is a top priority for CertainTeed," the company said.
With estimated profile sales of $680 million, CertainTeed is the fifth-largest pipe, profile and tubing manufacturer in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
CertainTeed is a subsidiary of Cie de Saint-Gobain SA, which is based in France and has more than 6,300 employees and 60 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The group saw sales of $3.7 billion in 2017.
Find the original article here.

Improper Backflow Prevention Could Lead to Copper Poisoning

Soda fountain machines are found in almost every establishment. Although those fizzy drinks are a tasty treat proper installation and maintenance is needed to prevent problems.

The machines work by mixing flavored syrup with carbonated water to make soda. The carbonated water is made by taking regular tap water and adding carbon dioxide (CO₂) gas creating carbonic acid. Without the carbonation fizz, it is no different than flavored syrup. When CO₂ is mixed with water, carbonic acid (a weak acid) is formed. Many water supply lines are made from copper. If CO₂ backs up into a copper water line, carbonic acid will dissolve some of the copper. 
 The water containing the dissolved copper will eventually be used in dispensing soft drinks and the first few customers receiving the drinks are likely to suffer with the symptoms of copper poisoning. Symptoms of copper poisoning by ingestion include vomiting and gastrointestinal distress.

On July 29, 1986, a woman and two girls attending a county fair in southwest Missouri came to the first aid station complaining of vomiting and abdominal distress. The symptoms occurred after consuming a carbonated beverage from a local stand, and investigation found that the soda from this stand contained elevated levels of copper and zinc. Examination of a simple check valve in one of the lines of the carbonation system revealed a stuck spring allowing backflow to occur.

On January 1, 1989, twelve children from daycare centers in the Dallas, Texas area suffered severe vomiting and stomach cramps after drinking water and soda at a movie theatre. It was discovered that a soda dispenser had malfunctioned the previous day allowing carbonated water to flow back into the water pipes of the building. This water had remained in the lines overnight and leached copper from the pipes. The next day, the copper-laced water flowed back into the soda machine and to a nearby water fountain. Later tests confirmed that the children suffered from copper poisoning.

If the proper backflow prevention device is used, the chances of copper poisoning are reduced or eliminated. The most common device, and the one required by the Kansas Food Code, is a dual check valve with an intermediate vent (American Society of Sanitary Engineering Standard #1022). The device consists of two independent check valves with an atmospheric port (vent). The port is between the check valves and will vent liquids and gases under backflow conditions. The device to be installed upstream from a carbonating device and downstream from any copper in the water supply line and to be preceded by a screen of not less than 100 mesh to 1 inch. Newer installations will most likely have the screen built into the carbonator pump.