The level of a carcinogenic chemical in the city of a Delaware is well below regulators’ standards, according to the public utilities director.
During Tuesday’s Public Works/Utilities Committee meeting, Brad Stanton said sample results that showed traces of chromium-6 from the city’s water supply in a report released by a environmental nonprofit are within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards and are outdated since the new water plant went online last year.
“Since the water plant went online — the new water plant — we’ve been below detective limits for chromium,” he said.
Chromium-6 entered the public sphere with the 2000 biographical film “Erin Brockovich,” named after the legal clerk who spearheaded a $333 million settlement to be paid from an energy corporation that poisoned residents of Hinkley, Calif., by contaminating its drinking water with the chemical.
The Washington-based Environmental Works Group released last month its analysis of federal data from nationwide drinking water tests citing that the carcinogen was detected for more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states.
The group cited studies that have shown that the water contaminated with the chemical caused cancer in rats and mice.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded that ingestion of tiny amounts of chromium-6 can cause cancer in people and have recommended the chemical be limited to 0.02 parts per billion in tap water to be a negligible risk over a lifetime of consumption — a part per billion is about a drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.
“They considered anything above a 0.02, a hazard,” Stanton said.
On the other hand, the EPA’s legal limit is 100 parts per billion. Eight samples were taken in 2013 with an average of 0.27 parts per billion for chromium-6 detected.
But the samples were taken after construction of the city’s new water plant, 3080 U.S. Route 23, which began on Oct. 1, 2012, according to The Gazette archives. The estimated $32 million project was funded through a combination of capacity fees and new development and water rates. It was the first time the plant had received a major overhaul since 1976.
The 21,000 square-foot process building can produce up to 7.2 million gallons of water per day with the Olentangy River as the primary source. Delaware’s residents and businesses use 4 million gallons per day, with a peak of 5.5 million gallons per day.
“Since the water plant went online we’ve do quarterly samples of our — for chromium testing and we’re at 0.05 … which is the detection limits,” Stanton said.
Since the report was released, he said he only received one call from a resident about the issue.
“It’s just one more great reason to have our new water plant up and running,” said Councilwoman Lisa Keller, 2nd Ward.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.